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|Create Date||January 29, 2018|
President’s Remarks at UB Graduation
My dear graduates you are now leaving the confines of UB and entering the world of work.
You are citizens of a global economy and part of your identity as a Belizean is also being a graduate of this national institution. You are growing and UB is growing as well. Your future success is our success. You must always remember where you have come from while savouring your current successes, never forgetting you are products of Belize and UB. Many have contributed to your success – your parents, guardians and loved ones, and I ask you to salute them with a round of applause. But so have been the teachers and administrators at UB who have shepherd and mentored you in this journey and I ask that you applaud them also. But do not forget that the taxpayers of Belize and the Government of Belize have also invested in your education. It is therefore incumbent that you give back to this country. There are 530 of you graduating this weekend between Belmopan City today and the Toledo District on Sunday. Congrats to all of you, well done. 326 of you graduating today are female. That’s 61 percent of you, and I want to see you become great female leaders one day. Men have always been in leadership roles and it is time you assert yourselves. So ladies you should be proud of yourselves. However, we need to do more to encourage potential students and males especially to stay within the educational system and get an opportunity to attend UB, thereby becoming active participants in the development of our country. In 2015, Edward Clarke, the Dean of the School of Science at the University of the Southern Caribbean in Trinidad said “children of single parents are six times more likely to be poor” and he went on to say “there are environmental, social and family conditions that hinder their personal development in society”. UB and Belize must work steadily to move all of its citizens, young men and women out of poverty and education can drive this.
At this time of graduation, as you prepare yourselves to enter the world of work, I wish to share just a few thoughts with you.
Number 1: Becoming entrepreneurial, creative, businesslike and active problem solvers.
In order to succeed, you must build your life and your work thoughtfully in the midst of many hurdles you will face. I have often said that my best years were those at University, as a student. After that, life becomes more complicated, as you enter a real world of challenges but also one of opportunities. You have to grab the latter, while navigating the hurdles and never be daunted.
I’ve heard it said here ‘Life is hard in Belize. It is difficult to be an entrepreneur’. That must not be an excuse for not trying. There is opportunity. You just need to find it. It takes discipline, planning, determination, hard work and dedication to succeed. You need look no further than the markets. On market days you see farmers, people buying and selling not only fruits and vegetables, but furniture and clothing. There is strong commerce taking place and when you combine that spirit of entrepreneurship with an education that you have received, the ingredients for success are there. The export market is where our graduates as entrepreneurs can excel, thus building new markets and improving those we currently have. Never underestimate the importance of partnerships in your development. Just as family was important partners in your years leading to graduation, so can new partners take you to new success in your work.
We in the Caribbean like to complain about everything under the sun and blame everyone but ourselves for the ills in our society. I want all of you to resist becoming part of the problem of Belizean society, but the problem solvers and builders of our nation.
Number 2: Becoming Team Players, Collaborators and showing respect for diversity. In order to succeed, you must learn to COLLABORATE in spite of differences.
We are all different people but serving one nation. In order to succeed in today’s world whether as an individual, or within the institution you would be working in, you must be able to respect the diversity of people, cultures, opinions etc. Listening and learning will be key attributes as you enter the world of work. So will be the need to develop tolerance, restraint and respect. UB graduates must distinguish themselves here. The problems we have to treat with today are complex, and often require that you work in multidisciplinary teams. So continue and strengthen your team working skills that you learnt at UB as this will ensure new success.
Number 3: Developing a willingness to continue to learn and be open and receptive to new knowledge and information
Never take the approach that as new graduates you now know everything in the area of your discipline. The world of work will challenge you like “no exam” or “textbook” or “classroom” can. But we have prepared you to think, to be problem solvers, to stay disciplined and focused. These experiences will serve you well, but you have to continue to learn and educate yourself in the work place. Learn from those around you. Humility, as a young graduate and as confident as you are today, will serve you in good stead for the future. But the demand for new knowledge still grows by the day, and so prepare yourselves to continue to study and learn-you live in a world of lifelong learning. So today is not the end of the process of learning. For those of you who are graduating with Associate Degrees I urge you to continue your university journey sooner than later. We at UB will always be there to welcome you back.
The last point I want to share with you,
Number 4: Is to become effective communicators. In order to succeed, you must be able to effectively share your vision, your thoughts and ideas.
As graduates of UB, as young professionals, employers will be looking and evaluating how you communicate, through your written reports or your oral presentations. Continue to hone the skills that you would have developed here as a student. Your communication skills will differentiate you from others and can lead to personal growth, success and satisfaction. And let me say as a Belizean graduate from a country positioned in Central America, I would suggest you acquire great skills in English and in Spanish as differentiating ingredients in your future success - you will become more competitive.
So go forth dear graduates and succeed. Continue to serve your family, your community and your country. Life should be one of selfless service. It brings great satisfaction as well as other gains. Continue to believe in the Almighty and the abilities endowed in you. While questioning yourself, never let this define who you are. We all stumble and fail, it is part of learning but by taking measured risks we can succeed beyond our wildest imagination. I wish you the very best in your future endeavors as Ambassadors of UB and do not forget to give back to your institution. It needs all your help. “Let us build UB” together. Thank you.