Valedictorian says graduates need hope
By: Brushell Blackman
The University of Guyana, under threatening skies held its 43rd Convocation Ceremony at its Turkeyen Campus yesterday. The exercise saw the attendance of President Bharrat Jagdeo, who had not graced the convocation in many years.
Addressing the graduating class of more than 1,000, valedictorian, Loria-Mae Angela Heywood, an International Relations Major and the recipient of the President’s award, called for the creation of jobs and a government that will be responsive to the needs of the qualified.
She reminded the gathering of the many graduates that have left Guyana for greener pastures to seek a decent living.
Heywood said that Guyana can ill afford this wanton brain drain, in a world that is characterised by the survival of the fittest.
She cautioned her fellow graduates not to sleep to dream but dream to be apart of change. The top student charged those gathered to seek greater things and not to be satisfied with their latest accomplishment. Giving wise counselling to her fellow mates, she said that the mark of true greatness is not merely to absorb what was received, but to ensure that one leaves indelible footprints in the sands of times of humanity.
Speaking about her sojourn at the institution, the soft spoken young lady said that they were numerous temptations to quit but her drive to succeed kept her going. For this she heaped praises on her family and many friends who stood by her in the good and not so good times.
Commenting on the event, she said that it was the graduates’ time and they should bask in the glory. Heywood said that the world is waiting expectantly and charged her colleagues to exceed those expectations, and to leave a lasting legacy that future generations could emulate.
In his address, newly installed Chancellor of the institution, Dr Compton Bourne, O.E. told the graduating classes that the university is readying itself for a new phase of development.
He said that with the recent cadre of scholars who are now apart of the institution, he is confident that improving standards are imminent.
Bourne said that a strategic plan for the next three years has been approved by the council and implementations are on the horizon. He said that plan takes into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the institution and will be addressing these in an aggressive way.
The Chancellor said that one of the most immediate issues to be addressed by the institution is the improvement of teaching and learning, with a strong focus on science and technology.
Additionally, Bourne said that there will be an aggressive drive to broaden the financial base of the institution, while at the same time seeking to recruit highly qualified teaching staff.
However, he acknowledged that such an ambitious plan will need the support of the government and the business community. Bourne commended the graduating staff on their achievement, but cautioned them to be humble and not believe that they have arrived.
Referring to the present global financial crisis, Bourne told the graduates that certain traditional jobs have disappeared and they should be willing to be flexible and adapt to the changes of present day.
He admonished the graduating class to use their achievement to good effect, recognising their capabilities and at the same time their limitations. The graduation also saw three Guyanese scholars, Dr Winston McGowan, Dr Mary Noel Menezes and Professor Doris Rogers being bestowed with Emeritus Professorship.
This accolade is conferred on a retired member of the academic community who attained the rank of Professor, honourably distinguishing themselves in the service of the university.