His Excellency Mr Eliud T Williams President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerritt Prime Minister, Hon (ag.) Minister for Education, Kelver Darroux, Chairman of the BOG Brian Meade and members of the BOG, Professor Dean Robinson key note speaker, members of the diplomatic corps, Rev. Bill Daniel, Government Ministers, other government representatives, specially invited guests, faculty, staff, students, parents and relatives of graduates,
Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good Afternoon and welcome to our 2012 Commencement Exercise.
This year marks the colleges 10th anniversary and each year since 2004 ,we have been educating students to become the vanguards of a new Dominica. On this 10th anniversary we are graduating more than 400 students to join the thousands of other Dominica State College graduates who are already contributing to the Nation’s economic and social development. It is remarkable that in such a short time that this college has been able to accomplish so very much.
It is perhaps fitting that one of the founders of the College who was given responsibility by Prime Minister Douglas in 2000 to establish the College,the then Minister of Education Roosevelt Skerritt is here with us today as Prime Minister of our country, and on behalf of the entire College community, I would like to thank him for his vision, his perseverance and his tenacity in getting this college established. Thank you sir, today on our tenth anniversary you can witness the fruits of your labor as we graduate the highest number of students in the history of the College.
It is with sincere pleasure therefore that I take this opportunity to address you graduands on such a momentous occasion in your life. Today should be an exciting and very special day for you. It is in fact the beginning of the rest of your life.
You, have completed all assignments, stayed up late at nights preparing for exams, passed all those exams and today you stand here at this commencement exercise, a testament to your perseverance and hard work, and you are now a college graduate. But, you could not have done that without the help and support of your parents, family and friends, so I think that while you celebrate this milestone in your life, we should take this opportunity to recognize all of the people who made this day possible for you.
Will all parents of graduating students please stand. How about the wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, grandparents, aunts, and uncles? Please all stand. We thank you and congratulate you on a job well done. (You may be seated). I could not go on however if we did not recognize those who were the very architects of your learning. The faculty (will all members of the faculty please stand and be recognized). Thank you.
As we gather here to celebrate and applaud your success as a college graduate, you should take a moment to reflect on your achievement. In today’s knowledge economy a college education is absolutely essential if one is to enjoy a high quality of life, and in the Caribbean in particular a college education has never been easily attainable.
You are therefore indeed a member of a very small fraternity. But as you reflect on your new status as a college graduate I want to think of yourself as an agent of change, a graduate who is going to take Dominica to developed status.
- You are graduating at a time when the world is just barely getting out of the most severe financial crisis in modern history
- When our country is in need of professionals with new ideas and energy to run our Agriculture and Tourist Industries.
- When Caribbean leaders are planning to offer free movement of peoples across the region.
- At a time, when the need to educate our people to become independent and take responsibility for their own lives is even more critical.
These times can be challenging but also presents unique opportunities for you as a graduate to either find meaningful employment, go on to further education or create your own jobs.
Against this background dear graduate much will be expected of you.
You are entering a Dominica work force that is in dire need of your young mind and energy, a Dominica looking for new solutions to old problems, A Dominica still mired in the old ways of working as little as we can and getting paid as much as we can.
So what will you have to do to move Dominica forward? You have to shift the work paradigm, from one of complaining to one of doing.
Today the country loses thousands of man hours per year in sick time either real or imagined. You need to change that. You need to show the nation how to develop through work. and for you, work:-
Means arriving at your work place on time and helping the people you serve reach their objective each day.
Work means ‘doing not “talking”
Work means setting personal goals and meeting those goals
Work means, saying thank you and, waiting your turn in a line,
Work means always helping your customers with a smile.
Work means being responsible, if you must work a shift on carnival day, you should show up for work and don’t call in sick and then go jump up in the band.
And finally work means continuing your education, never stop learning, knowledge will serve you well in the future.
Last year I reminded the graduates of their responsibilities and
The kind of character they should build and I want to advise you to do the same.
In a world characterized by monumental diversity each individual, degree or no degree is important to the welfare of the nation in building a strong safe society, where your family can enjoy a quality of life without the threat of violence and crimes.
You will be well advised as college graduates to share your knowledge with those around you and take the time to learn from them. If as educated individuals, you can take time at work and in your community to donate some of your time and knowledge to helping others succeed, then you would have used your education wisely and would have contributed to the development of your nation. As you listen to your radio talk shows each day in Dominica, you will recognize that there are a lot of our citizens who need to be educated and need your help. You are now a college graduate, so please share your knowledge with others who are less educated than you. United State President, Thomas Jefferson once said and I quote “A Nation cannot be ignorant and free and it therefore follows that societies will become more democratic and civil as citizens become more knowledgeable and educated.”
Consequently, for every nation, education should be at the top of its priority list and for every family education and – not the acquisition of a blackberry “should be the objective
Education is not a degree or certificate; it is a process of accumulating knowledge and experience that prepares us for life. Never stop learning –
Never assume that you are better than your neighbor because they do not have a degree, instead throughout your life you should always respect those around you who were not fortunate as you were to go to College
So at DSC, we want to encourage our students to choose careers that will excite them and at which they will be very good. We are gearing to educate, the Plumbers of Tomorrow, the professors of tomorrow, the lawyers of tomorrow, the health providers of tomorrow, the surveyors of tomorrow and the Doctors of tomorrow, the Auto mechanic of tomorrow, the energy mangers of tomorrow, the food providers and processors of tomorrow, and all of the necessary professions that can help build our nation.
So my message to you graduates as you move on to careers, is please select the career that truly excites you and make you want to go to work each day, if you do that you will end up with a career that also pays well
You should also know graduates that your College the DSC is new; yes we are only 10 years old but have already produced over three thousand (3300) graduates. For ten years now our graduates have been distinguishing themselves at all levels of work in Dominica and beyond as IT Technicians, Business managers, health providers,teachers ,Police Officers and others. Our Graduates have used the academic credits and associate Degrees that they have received here to transfer to some of the top colleges in the world including, The University of North Carolina, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Arkansas, Columbia University,and after this ceremony I will be negotiating with my own Alma Mater the University of Mass to transfer our students with their credits to that institution.
We believe that DSC graduates will always standout, because we have also given you an education that is global in content and second to none.
We are also proud to be meeting the workforce needs of the country. We want to be the Institution that the industry turns to when they need professionals and trained technicians. In the future, DSC will be focusing on taking on a new national responsibility namely to become the primary higher education and training institution for Energy management In addition we would like to continue our plan to develop programmes in Health Education, water resource management, public administration, mass communication and develop Associate Degrees and Certificate programmes in other areas of the Performing Arts and Interior Decorating and Design.
The new facilities which will be ready for the fall of 2013 will present significant new space and opportunities to develop the programmes that we have planned.
The future for us is exciting. We have already outgrown our current Stock Farm Campus and the number of new applicants to our programs is increasing every day. This year we admitted 808 new students. Fortunately, the Government of Dominica commitment to build a new and innovative campus promises to make us one of the largest and most modern campus in the OECS and we plan to utilize that facility to graduate even more Dominicans to help our country grow. The work is going on at a tremendous pace and it is expected that the new campus will be on stream by October 2013.
But while the future looks good, I cannot help but reflect on the kind of society that you will be entering as a graduate, and I could not end this address if I did not draw your attention to the similarity and perhaps the timelessness of a quote taken from the pages of literature by Charles Dickens. In Dominica and indeed the world it would seem that though these words were written during the French Revolution in 1789, it could easily have been written today, and I quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope…” from the tale of two Cities. By Charles Dickens. So the world is not perfect, in Dominica we still have daily radio talk shows as forms of entertainment and hate mongering instead of education. However if we at DSC did our job in preparing you with the relevant education that you need to educate our people, then you will be more than ready to help reduce poverty, defeat crime , reduce violence, and improve the standard of living and civility in our country . In effect you will be able to handle the best of times and the worst of times.
Finally, I want to extend words of thanks to our entire staff and faculty at the college for your effort, commitment, support, and hard work in helping our students succeed
and to the parents, family, friends, and partners of all graduates.. You have every right to be very proud and very happy for them. (applause)
I would like to also thank the government of Dominica for their continued funding of the State College and look forward to their continued support. In 2012, the Government continues to provide 85% of the colleges expenditure and a time when most Governments and States internationally can only fund 68% their institutions(unesco), so we are indeed grateful to this government whose policies supports the very survival of our college.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank former chairman of the Board of Governors His Excellency Mr.Eluid T Williams now president of our country, former acting Chair Mr Steve Hyacinth, the new chair Mr Brian Meade and all of the Board members for the leadership and support that they have brought to the institution.
As for the graduates, before I close, I would like to share five short tidbits that I always give to graduates:
- Wherever your travels may take you, call home often;
- Always be street smart; don’t be fooled by con artists. do not buy the Brooklyn Bridge – it is not for sale
- Never forget your bag or your cell phone on a bus, you won’t get it back.
- Never pay your Visa bill with your MasterCard.
- Do not tatoo any part of your body you cannot hide in a job interview;
The future is yours! Take hold of it. Follow your dreams; and do not forget to share your talents with your communities, your institutions, and your country.
Once again congratulations. I wish you all the best for your very bright futures, for which The Dominica State College has prepared you so well.
Have a good celebration with your friends and family and when you get very rich don’t forget to make donations to your college.