Graduation 2013 : Keynote Address by Jocelyne Josiah

Madame Chair and members of the Bishops High School Board; Head Teacher, and staff of the Bishops High School; President of the PTA; President of BHSOSA; new Graduates; students, ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon.

It is an honour, a privilege and a humbling experience for me to stand before you today to deliver the keynote address at this very special event.

It is special for so many reasons; … the achievement of each and everyone in this Graduating class and for this I extend my heartiest congratulations; and the overwhelming nostalgia and pride I feel as an alumna, in being part and parcel of this happy gathering.

As someone once said, “Graduation speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.” That's where I come in as the keynote speaker. I'll try not to sedate you too badly.

How do we prepare ourselves for lives post-graduation?

1. Evaluate ourselves and develop a personal strategic plan

What is a Strategic Plan?

Many organizations view strategic planning as a process for determining where an organization is going over the next year or—more typically—3 to 5 years, although some extend their vision to 20 years, or even 50 or 100 years.

How prepared are we for the careers we shall now launch?

Have you ever observed a newly hatched bird launch itself out of the nest on its first flight?

What things can you DO? What are you competent in?

I found that the extra curricular activities in which many of us participated here at Bishops were the things we really liked and knew how to do and served us at this particular turning point in our lives and throughout our careers.

When I finished High School, I should have been completely lost… with barely enough GCE subjects to get a job…and no English no mathematics…
There was no turning back, however, and I had to look for a job… as I did not envisage myself staying home doing nothing.. All my friends who did better than I did, were finding placements…in banks…at Bookers’… government services…. In teaching… I ran into a friend (Sharlie, who is now deceased…) and who was teaching at a school…who said to me. “This is what you would do. You go to the Ministry of Education…Brickdam……to a specific person…very politely say to him that you have ‘just left Bishops and are looking for a job’”… I was lucky to be placed as Art and Music teacher (the music, thanks to my extra curricular activities) at East Ruimveldt Secondary School and the rest is history.

Like the newly hatched bird, you are entitled to hope that the environment is safe and caring ... I mean an environment that is conducive to learning and characterized by high standards of integrity, ethical behaviour and predictability among other attributes and features. We also trust that you have skills and attitudes and goals and ambitions that are good and fertile foundations for learning and future development ... That you know enough about learning to ensure your happiness and fulfillment and continued success.

The journey

The theme selected for your graduation is most appropriate and I applaud this fine message: “ The Journey is the Reward”.

In fact, we are all on a journey from the time we are born on this planet to the day we expire. A journey to learn; to make ourselves better and better individuals; to move closer and closer to perfection…and… for those who believe in reincarnation…until we get it right we have to keep repeating the journey over and over again.

A journey suggests steady ... movement ... progress ... towards a pre-determined destination. It suggests the deliberate management of our time and other resources for specific objectives, beginning with working towards the next level of our educational attainment.

In this learning incubator, that is our journey, we need to give thought to the opportunities that graduating students of Bishops are uniquely capable of exploiting. What are the skills in highest demand? What are the means through which these skills might be acquired and in what fields do Bishops graduates have a competitive advantage?

Today, while celebrating your accomplishments we must also recognise your teachers, parents and family who accompanied you with long and outstanding commitment and sacrifice in this part of your journey.

Stand and give your teachers, parents and family the public applause they deserve!

Yet, there is much work to be done - to build on such solid foundations and to correct any shortfalls and deficiencies that might exist.

As you open your wings to fly remember to fly straight like a swan and not skip from tree to tree like a sparrow. We need focus in our lives.

… How can we become better organized and therefore more productive and responsible human beings? How best can we invest our most valuable resources….our TIME?

… What yardsticks do we set for ourselves? What milestones should we be looking for as the journey develops - markers that tell us how far we have gone and how wisely we have used our TIME?

We could begin by developing the habit of thorough research in whatever we do to vastly improve our knowledge , operate from an informed position and gain experience

Also bear in mind: Education equals opportunity…
though how many manage to seize that opportunity and launch sustainable careers after graduation?

Paper qualifications are just that - ephemeral things. What is the point in focusing on achieving distinctions in 20 CAPE subjects when a lot of these might be attributable to mechanical regurgitation and photographic memories?

Education is about the quality of the decisions that a person is able to make ... About the quality of the strategic planning process that is followed before important decisions and critical new directions are taken.

Education is about creating new knowledge; adapting to ever-changing situations and overcoming unheard-of challenges; being able to think and analyse strategically; how to cope with all aspects of life and to problem-solve effectively.

It is also about good grooming, building self confidence and self-esteem.
You also have technology on your side.

Contrary to previous generations, you have been born with the new information and communication technologies. Most of you are adept at manipulating a computer and communicate at will, through the internet, email; texting; Youtube; Facebook, Twitter and the like…You have seen the role of social media and the values of real time communication and networking here and in different parts of the world.

It is now up to you to use those media creatively and to your advantage for the betterment of yourselves and the environments in which you live.
Visit on-line universities…and other educational institutions…

I would love nothing more than to see everyone in this room go on to some form of higher education. On average, university graduates live healthier lifestyles. They’re more active in democracies and they’re more likely to volunteer/give back to their communities.

But if university is not in your immediate plans, it is not the end of the world… Please don’t ever stop learning… for learning brings awakening and insights into thinking out of the box.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Instead of seeking professions where you go to work and receive a salary from some one, or entity…you may begin to think of using the new technologies to independently set up your own enterprise…where you are from an early age in control of your own income and expenditures…….

Concluding words

… remember the The Bishops High School Motto - "Labor omnia vincit"-"Hard work conquers all".

My motto however is, Work hard, play hard…and live with integrity

Always find the time to give back …contribute in some way … to the bridges and communities which you have left behind

Remember that education is just not grades alone….Universities and CEOs alike agree on this

Most of all, bear in mind that Bishops took a chance on you. They had faith in you…. And, to get through this life, you need to have faith in something outside of yourself too. There is always a higher self…a higher power around to keep you in line on this journey, as you chart a course of excellence that will drive yourselves and Guyana proudly towards a brighter future.

May you serve as a shining beacon … role model…for your younger brothers and sisters to follow.

God bless