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Physics Grad Credits Professors, Staff for Success During Pandemic

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I would like to thank the Department of Physics for giving me this chance to express my gratitude and appreciation. 

First of all, I would like to thank my parents for everything they have provided and given me — more than I could have dreamed of. Also, I want to thank Dr. (Ionel) Tifrea for giving me the opportunity to join this journey of excellence at Cal State Fullerton, and Dr. (Hal) Fearn for preparing me with the skills needed for future studies and challenges. 

The time I spent at Cal State Fullerton is rather short, yet it is still some of the best. What I missed the most is the group study in the common room in the first year — before COVID-19. We worked on homework, lecture notes on the whiteboard and we got into discussions. Ideas collided and scattered across the room. Everybody had a bit of a different approach to the same question. Together, we often found the best solution, or sometimes we didn’t. The best thing was when Dr. (Joshua) Smith, Dr. Fearn or other faculty members, such as Dr. Tifrea, Dr. (Murtadha) Khakoo or Dr. (Gina) Passante, who didn’t even teach us at the time, walked in and threw us some hints or suggestions that saved us from misery. This is my definition of a friendly, supportive learning environment, which I never had anywhere else. 

Then COVID-19 came, and we shifted to online education in such a short notice. But thanks to the efforts of the department and coordination of Veronica (Traub) and Giasmine (Pesantes), the transition was carried out so carefully and smoothly, which made it a lot easier on us. Remote schooling was, and will always be, a challenge for many of us. Labs would not be easy, both for teaching and for learning, without the support of Shovit (Bhari) and Bobby (Wright) and faculty members, where labs were made to be carried out online. Today, our success would not be possible without the devotion and effort of every single faculty member of the entire Department of Physics. So, I want to say, thank you! We will carry this spirit of “the show must go on,” of resilience, and what we learned from all of you into the future, and in our lives.  

Graduation is a landmark for learning; it’s not the goal or anywhere near the end of the journey. Physics, beyond the knowledge, gives us the chance to change the world. It gives us the power to accurately analyze the situation, the ability to quickly learn new skills, and the confidence that knowing that if I can solve quantum mechanics, I will have a pretty good probability of solving any other problems. Besides, if something’s not working out, just remember that Dr. Tifrea once told us, if a problem cannot be solved in 10 pages, don’t stop. He would say, “What is so hard about it, it’s just math? And you will probably get it done on the 12th page.” 

There isn’t much I can think of that a physicist cannot do or cannot learn to do. So, I say, together, let’s go out there, keep learning, keep working and keep making the world around us a better place. 

Submitted by Keqin Cai, who is graduating with a Master of Science in physics

Keqin gave this speech at the May 25 Department of Physics virtual event to celebrate graduating students and scholarship winners. He plans to attend law school at Santa Clara University and study intellectual property law.  

Debra Cano Ramos