Angad Singh Padda
Angad Singh Padda, seen here at last week’s UC Berkeley undergraduate commencement ceremony, delivered an inspiring address to the crowd.

BERKELEY, Calif. (Diya TV) — Angad Singh Padda woke up last Monday morning prepared to celebrate the culmination of all his hard work at UC Berkeley’s undergraduate commencement ceremony.

He sat cross-legged on the Greek Theatre stage next to Dean Rich Lyons, and began to beat on classical Indian drums called the Tabla.

“That intense beat right there was everybody’s heartbeat right before we opened our admissions letters,” said Padda, who wore a bright yellow turban that was inspired by Cal colors. “When I got in I was so happy my face was as bright as this turban.”

“On a serious note,” he continued. “for this speech to work I need everybody’s help. For a couple of seconds, please, close your eyes everybody. Think about that one problem that matters most to you, that one issue you really need resolved to make this world a better place. Now open your eyes. That right there is the core of my speech today.”

Just six months ago, Padda was among 30 of his fellow Haas undergraduate classmates who had auditioned for the role and honor of the commencement’s speaker. When he was ultimately selected, Padda went out and asked more than 70 classmates what mattered to them most.

While he took all of their considerations to heart, Padda said he never drafted an official address for his remarks.

“If I was to memorize a speech and write it down I wouldn’t be able to feel it and connect with the audience,” he said.

The talk, which he titled “A Sikh’s graduation speech to unite the world,” centered on the idea that we are all one and can all unite to solve global problems. He spoke of losing two best friends to drugs in his home state of Punjab, and said his plan when coming to the U.S. was to become successful enough to return home and fight the scourge of drug abuse.

Then he turned to some the problems his classmates had shared with him.

“Whenever there’s a kid in Oakland who can’t afford school, that’s a problem,” he said. “Whenever climate change wipes out a species, that’s a problem. Whenever a Muslim woman gets bullied because of her hijab, or a Jewish man because of his yarmulke, or a Sikh man because of his turban, that is a problem. When a father in Syria cries because he lost his entire family to a missile strike, that’s a problem.”

He urged the other undergraduates in attendance at the ceremony “to use our education to go beyond ourselves to make this world a better place. We want to unify this world. That’s the core spirit of every student right here. That is who we are.”

Padda, who accepted a job at JP Morgan as an investment banker, will leave soon to begin training in New York, and will start working in San Francisco after that.

“Berkeley is like home for me,” he said. It is in Berkeley where Padda said he’s received the sort of protection and welcoming spirit many of his fellow Sikhs across the U.S. have not. “I have so many friends across the U.S. who wear turbans. One friend was called Osama Bin Laden and told “Get out. You don’t belong here.”