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Jul 01, 2018 News
“Don’t ever feel you’re too small or insignificant in this world to make a difference. If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
On Thursday afternoon, last, scores of Queen’s College students gathered for their graduation, bringing the curtains down on a part of their life at one of the best schools in the country. And urging them on to greater things was none other than one of the school’s brightest scholars, Devindra Kissoon, who has returned home, establishing the London House Chambers as one of the foremost in the business.
According to Kissoon in his address to the students – in the presence of teachers and parents – he was sacked just six months after he started to work at a law firm in New York.
Emphasising for the students to stay steady and never give up, Kissoon explained that he started his first job at Cozen O’Connor in New York in 2002.
“I was surrounded by unknowns; there was an error within six months at my job – relying on a secretary to do something for me which she didn’t do properly – and ultimately I was held responsible. My managing partner fired me, giving me two weeks’ notice.”
The lawyer recounted that it was agony being fired from one of the best law firms in the US, and that the odds were stacked against him. But he was determined to overcome it all.
“It was a situation where I had never seen a skyscraper or interacted on such a sophisticated landscape. I looked different, I spoke differently, my culture was different, and my knowledge base was woefully lacking. But I summoned up the courage the next week to go and see the managing partner – waiting on him day after day until I found him in the bathroom and apologized for my mistake… and asked for forgiveness and to be restored.”
The lawyer said that the man softened.
And “…that very partner made me a partner six years later. Don’t ever feel you are too small or insignificant in this world to make a difference. If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito,” he told the students.
He stressed that a graduate from Queens College is no ordinary thing.
“Hailing from Linden, I had very little idea of the greatness of Queen’s College. Upon my arrival I quickly realized that I was outclassed by brilliance which far surpassed anything I had experienced. Students seemingly effortlessly excelled at examinations without studying, instead focusing on athletics, poetry, debating, chess, craft and whole host of activities I had never imagined existed.
“This competition placed tremendous pressure for me to try to excel. Little did I realize that this positive peer pressure would result in all of us being well prepared for a work life balance which has endured up until today.”
He told the students that graduates of Queens College have excelled both here and abroad, and they now have the privilege of joining the ranks of Guyana’s elite including former presidents Forbes Burnham, Cheddi Jagan, and the current president David Granger.
“Also coming from Queens College were former attorneys general, judges, sportsmen including Roger Harper, poets and historians of the likes of Dr. Walter Rodney. You have the privilege of the backing of the most accomplished secondary school in the Caribbean. You will have at your fingertips Guyana’s finest men and women at home and abroad, and I can assure, every Queen’s College graduate will help another where they can. And once you announce your alma mater, in most instances, you will be treated with respect and dignity.”
The lawyer boasted that “QC runs things in Guyana”. However, he cautioned that with this great lineage comes great responsibility.
“I charge each and every one of you with the task of keeping our crest flying high. Above all, be honest and have integrity. In an ever-changing word, a person’s word is still his bond, and the word of a QC graduate is golden. Be diligent and punctual. The standards you have grown accustomed to here must not be diluted with the passage of time. As you grow, also give back, you never knew how a simple gesture can change the life of a Queen’s College student.”
He said that despite living out of Guyana for more than 20 years, his best friendships are QC classmates.
“And my darling wife, who is here today, was also my class mate, also from H house.”
He warned too of mediocrity.
“Mediocrity does not mean failure. You are allowed to fail as many times as it take you to learn from that failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. We all come from different backgrounds. Some of you will be going away to study, some will be staying right here at UG, and others may be looking for a job. Everyone will have a different opportunity. Do not feel greater or lesser than your peers. I promise you no matter what opportunity you are afforded, each and every one of you have the makings to be someone great.”
He also urged the students to stay in Guyana and help it grow.
“In closing, only a lack of education can hold you back, and today you’ve cleared that bar; and you’ve done it at one of country’s finest institutions. I assure you that when you look back, some of the best years of your lives would have been spent here at Queen’s College. However, this is just the beginning of your journey. It’s now time for you to work harder than ever, take risks, have a goal and have a plan. And never stop studying.”
Kissoon started Queen’s at the tender age of 9 having placed in the top 10 at the Common Entrance Examinations. A member of H house, and a keen member of the QC chess club, he became the first student at Queen’s College (and in Guyana) to top the CXC examinations in 1993, being awarded the Berger Prize.
He was an avid contributor to the Lictor and a regular member of the debating team. He graduated from Queens College in 1995 and was awarded a scholarship from Government.
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