News from Ohio State University

Ohio State alum Chris Pan encourages graduates to set sights on making a difference

In his keynote address at The Ohio State University’s spring commencement Sunday at Ohio Stadium, alumnus Chris Pan, social entrepreneur, musician and inspirational speaker, encouraged graduates to tap into the power of intention to realize their goals.

“Each intention is a lesson for our soul to learn. Intentions are the ‘how,’ versus goals are the ‘outcomes,’” he said. “For example, the intention is to live with abundance or to feel secure, versus a goal might be to have a million dollars. There are plenty of millionaires who don’t feel they have enough and plenty of folks in Bhutan, the happiest country in the world, with a lot less that feel abundant.”

Pan, who graduated from Ohio State in 1999, worked for PepsiCo and Facebook before starting his own company, MyIntent. MyIntent makes bracelets with a customer-chosen word that helps the wearer remember to live intentionally. In addition, Pan’s umbrella organization SpiritLab promotes spiritual health and growth through experimentation.  

Pan also encouraged the graduates to promote civility in society by practicing tolerance and considering viewpoints different from their own.

“We cannot learn forgiveness if no one has wronged us, compassion without suffering, and resilience without setbacks,” he said. “We cannot learn tolerance without differing perspectives.” 

Presiding over his first Ohio State commencement, President Walter “Ted” Carter Jr. noted that when the graduates arrived at Ohio State’s campuses in 2020, they were part of the largest class of new first-year students that the university had ever welcomed. The class of 2024 represents all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

“Many of you are already world-class scientists, Olympic athletes and exemplars of servant-leadership,” he said. “About two-thirds of you are probably planning to stay here in Ohio – reflecting our university’s founding commitment to the future of this state. To put it simply: You represent every bit of the grit, breadth and excellence of your alma mater. You are, in a single word, remarkable.”

During the ceremony, Hiroyuki Fujita, chair of Ohio State’s Board of Trustees, presented an honorary doctor of science degree in absentia to Pierre Agostini, professor emeritus of physics and 2023 Nobel Laureate. Fujita also presented an honorary doctor of science degree to Dennis Liotta, who completed postdoctoral research at Ohio State and has been instrumental in the creation of 18 FDA-approved antiviral therapeutics. Retired Gen. John Murray, who received an honorary doctor of public service degree, is one of only two Ohio State alumni to receive the rank of U.S. Army four-star general.

Fujita also presented Distinguished Service Awards to Stanley and Joan Ross for their support of the Ross Center for Brain Health Performance and the Stanley and Joan Gene Therapy Neighborhood at the Pelotonia Research Center, among other contributions; and Lawrence Williamson Jr., retired director of Ohio State’s Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center.

Of the 12,555 degrees and certificates awarded Sunday, 306 were doctorates, 1,698 master’s and 970 professional, and 9,581 were undergraduate and associate degrees and certificates.