|Address Garvey Maceo High School Graduation Ceremony|
Let me thank you for your kind invitation to be here today to celebrate this special occasion with you. I accepted your invitation unhesitatingly, because I know that I will be addressing a special group of young people who can make a significant difference to society.
I observe that your invitation to address this function did not suggest a topic on which to speak, but I have noted with interest the theme for this ceremony, which is “Adversity – Not a Hindrance to Excellence”. To me this theme is very relevant, appropriate and an excellent choice given the nature of the society in which we now exist.
To the graduating class, today officially marks the end of a chapter in your life – it marks the end of your high school life, it marks the end of your stay here at Garvey Maceo and for some it also marks the end of some special relationships that you have built with your classmates and teachers over the years.
Significantly as well today also marks the beginning of the rest of your life (the rest of your life begins today.) The chapter you have written while here at Garvey Maceo is now closed – it cannot be re-written, it cannot be re-opened; it cannot be changed; so whatever you wrote in that chapter – be it bad, be it good or be it excellent it will follow you forever in the future, because it has been written with the indelible ink of life.
But today I am not here to speak about your past; I am here to guide you into the future. And as one writer puts it – you must plan for the future for that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life.
To the graduating class, I say be prepared and continue to believe in yourself because as you go out into the future and into the real world, a world that has changed significantly and rapidly over a relatively short period of time, a world that will continue to change in ways one can hardly imagine – as you go out into the unknown – you will experience adversity.
But having adversity in your life is normal – so expect it, but tell yourself that having adversity is not what matters. What matters is what you do to overcome that adversity. It is essentially how we handle adversity that will determine what we make of our lives.
The weak will crumble when the odds stack up and will surrender even before an attempt is made to overcome while the great and successful people will see adversity as a challenge as they strive to excellence.
Against all odds, they rise above difficulties and scale greater heights than before. They do not merely survive the adversity, they thrive.
Dear graduates, if you are really serious about living your dreams you have to continuously conquer adversity and look out for new opportunities to undertake and excel in. Remember that adversity will always be a part of life but it doesn’t have to drag you down.
Think of the many people you know who have been through incredible adversity to become great.
All of you know the name OPRAH WINFREY. In her youth she had to deal with adversities – she was abused, and had to deal with teenage pregnancy. But she went on to become the most successful talk show host in the history of television.
Think about the famous songwriter and poet Fanny J. Crosby who became blind at age 6, weeks from maltreatment of her eyes. She wrote over 8000 hymns. And her story is remarkable. One time a preacher remarked to her that “I think it’s a great pity that the Lord did not give you sight” – she replied quickly “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition it would have been that I should be born blind”
She said that if perfect earthly sight were offered to her tomorrow she would not accept it because it would have distracted her from her life of excellence.
This other person I am about to mention, dropped out of school and was home schooled. He ran a country store but went broke and it took him 19 years to pay off his debt. He had a law firm but his partner ran off and left him in debts. He was married but his marriage flopped. His son died at a young age. He ran for political office four times and lost all four times. Ultimately he held the highest office.
Who was he?
Abraham Lincoln who is known to be the greatest president of the USA. And he was not great because he once lived in a cabin but because he got out of it. You now need to get out of the cabin of life that determines who you are in order to become who you want to be – it is your destiny and you are in charge of it.
These individuals are positive proof that adversity, whether it comes about as a result of our own mistakes or just plain old bad luck, can be overcome.
We gain strength from adversity, and no matter what obstacles life tosses your way, success is attainable.
It is said that ‘A bend in the road is not the end of the road …… unless you fail to make the turn.’ And if you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. And as Ralph Emerson said ‘When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.’
Today I charge you to achieve excellence in whatever you do irrespective of the odds– if you become a doctor be an excellent one, if you become a teacher be an excellent one; if you become a farmer be an excellent one – because it is only when we achieve excellence in whatever we do, will we be able to compete and co-exist in a harsh global world.
Some of you may leave school without the desired number of CXC subjects but remember you still have a chance to make up and achieve excellence if you don’t yield. Because while you may not be able to make up for lost time you’ll still be able to make up for lost opportunities.
I put it to you that, unless you were born into ascribed wealth, education is your only hope. Our faith in education as the gateway to our future should not be shaken, as education is still seen as the means whereby not only the children but an entire family mired in poverty might be delivered from its curse. Education is the only universal tool that can deliver a whole generation consigned to poverty, marginalization and exclusions to achieve economic empowerment which is our new emancipation.
Education holds the key to your success. Education makes people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to enslave. One writer said only the educated are free.
But don’t expect a bed of roses, the challenges will be great and the task will be difficult. Sometimes you will feel like giving up – but remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr. – “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenges”.
As you go along life’s journey, you will encounter several challenges. But you can break free from these challenges; you can break free from these entanglements if you remain focus on your goals.
It is not too late for anyone of you here to make a difference but it will require excellence in education which is not beyond any of you, even if it appears so now. As you graduate this afternoon please be constantly reminded that you are now an integral part of the national agenda, and if you don’t perform well as adults we will end up with a nation at risk. I want all you graduates to realize and remember that it is not our physical space that limits us, it is our mental space that restricts us. It is the mental boundaries that we box ourselves into, which limit our progress, but once we believe that we can achieve excellence it will happen.
In closing – I wish to leave this poem with you.
ALWAYS HAVE A DREAM
Forget about the days when it’s been cloudy,
But don’t forget your hours in the sun
Forget about the times you’ve been defeated
But don’t forget the victories you’ve won
Forget about mistakes that you can’t change now
But don’t forget the lessons that you’ve learned
Forget about misfortunes you’ve encountered
But don’t forget the times your luck has turned
Forget about the days when you’ve been lonely
But don’t forget the friendly smiles you’ve seen
Forget about the plans that didn’t seem to work out right
But don’t forget to always have a dream
Each of you has the power to succeed, if you choose. So I say to you all, open the doors and let the future begin. Stand tall, set your goals high. Remember to treat each new challenge as an opportunity not as an obstacle and do not be afraid to follow the path to your dreams and become excellent.
Congratulations, God bless you all on this your special day - I thank you
The Courtney Walsh Award is awarded annually recognizing exemplary qualities in male or female Jamaican nationals between 18 to 40 years of age who represented Jamaica, at senior level in the field of sports. The successful nominee wwill receive cash award of $500,000.00 and a Crystal Trophy administered by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, ans Education Fund (CHASE).
CHASE TREATS GUESTS TO PERFORMANCES BY ITS CLASSICAL STARS
Guests of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund (CHASE) were treated to a special musical performance on May 27 at King's House by talented performers who were awarded scholarships under the Fund's Arts and Culture Portfolio. Entitled "A Classical Evening with CHASE", the sparklin...more...
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