Speech Delivered by Dr. Bropleh At Grand Bassa College 4th Graduation

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Buchanan – Today marks yet another defining moment in the annals of the Grand Bassa Community College, a great and noble institution that stands tall in Liberia amongst Community Colleges as a Leader in the impartation of quality education.  

Today, I am especially elated that you extended the invitation to H. E. President Weah to serve as your 4th Commencement Speaker, an invitation he wholeheartedly accepted but, due to an urgency related to State matters that demanded his presence, he has asked that I, with his fullest endorsement with all the rights and privileges appertaining, deputize for him at this Commencement.

So, needless to say, I am humbled to stand in the stead of President Weah to serve at this 4th Commencement of my college, the noble and excellence-seeking Grand Bassa Community College.   

By your soft mandate in your invitation letter to the President,  I hope to communicate a few words that would inspire the Graduates, Administration, Staff and students  that as leaders in their respective areas and as students, they must at all times live out integrity, respect for others and a strong sense of selflessness.

Dr. Monwell and the Commencement Committee, Your preferred Theme “Professional education and discipline: the way forward to achieving excellence and success”, is so uniquely coined because it is only with capacity and preparedness that one can lead a successful life of excellence.

A few years ago, each of you made the firm decision to pursue college education in different fields of study here at the Grand Bassa Community College with the ultimate goal of securing a career for yourselves as professionals to make a constructive difference for your county Grand Bassa and your nation, Liberia.

I need not restate the challenges that attended your way as you pursued excellence and a life time career, but rather hasten to congratulate you on your achievements with a candid reminder that achieving excellence and success is not momentary, but an elongated journey, for one does not achieve excellence and success by sudden flight, but rather, by diligently toiling night and day.

Like you, most of us have had similar encounter of difficulties along life’s journey. The difficulty of low enrollment, non-attendance and frequent drop-outs resulting from the increasing cost of education had remained a major challenge to attaining education long before H.E Dr. George M. Weah became President of Liberia.

It became particularly shocking upon hearing some time ago that every semester at the University of Liberia in Monrovia, about 20,000 students would process their billings, yet only about 12,000 students would attend and pay.

Furthermore, about 5,000 of the 12,000 students who would be in attendance are dependent on some form of financial aid or scholarship. The rest of the students do not attend due to the lack of financial means.

Certainly, this situation cuts across public Universities and colleges in our country, with GBCC  not exempted. That is why, barely eight months into his leadership, H.E President Weah, with great humanistic passion and perspicacity,  took the bold step of isolating what seemed one of the biggest challenges confronting our human resource development drive in Liberia, by making undergraduate education free at the University of Liberia and all public universities and colleges across the country.

Moreover, in the quest to address the age-old challenge of standing in long queues, delays in the registration processes, lack of systems to effectively and efficiently manage students` records, and to adequately manage the University of Liberia’s Administration and its system in general, H.E President Weah prioritized and provided budgetary support at the very beginning of his Administration for the digitization of the state-run University of Liberia, something I will be urging our president to duplicate at all state-run colleges across the country with GBCC benefitting as well.  

Noteworthy is the government’s policy to take responsibility for the payment of WAEC fees for ALL senior high school students across the country, as it reduces significantly the burden on parents who now would only need to pay tuition for a child from Grade 7th to 12th, as primary as well as tertiary education are now FREE.

These interventions have inarguably demonstrated the President’s commitment to investing in professional education which is an indispensable and essential thoroughfare to achieving excellence and success.

But more so, it indicates the  intentionality of the will of this government to invest not only in physical capital, such as roads, but in human capital, for the over-all growth of our citizens and our economy.

President Weah and the government of Liberia are aware that no country can develop without investing in the education of its people. As such,  continue to take direct and practical actions towards strengthening Liberia’s educational sector, which forms an integral part of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity.

The PPADP must be considered the linchpin for sustained economic growth and development, because it encapsulates policy actions that are more generally aimed at reducing poverty by improving access to services.

The desire of President Weah and the government is to intentionally put more money in education; starting at the primary level and follow it through to the junior and senior high levels with adequate monitoring and supervision while ensuring that compensation is satisfactory and incremental over time.

Our nation needs to introduce standardized testing or placement for university entrance exams and let universities themselves decide which student to admit rather than each university administering its own entrance exams. That’s how it is done in other countries whose educational systems are much stronger.

Liberian students when confronted with questions in an educational environment should not appear stupefied or discombobulated, rather, they should be able to summon the sensibilities of their mental acumen and constructively engage with a satisfactory outcome that would bring pride to themselves and our nation Liberia.

The future of our nation rests in the actions we take today to ‘fix the mess.’ Our attitudinal dispositions should mirror collectivism and the ‘we consciousness’, reminding ourselves that no nation can rebuild until its people rebuild. Molding the minds is a rebuilding process, for a conscious and caring society is one where the tenants of democracy are evident and where the possibility to speak truthfully ‘with liberty and justice for all’ exists.

When that happens, students who come to college would be prepared to succeed in their academic studies and we will have more and more students graduating with high honors.

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen;

Today, GBCC elects to increase the labor force in the formal sector of Liberia by Two hundred and fifty enterprising young men and women who have, by all standards, fulfilled all of the requirements prescribed by the College’s authorities.

I am aware that arriving here was never on silver platter; I am sure it didn’t come out of patronage, but immense sacrifices. But hey, were you ever promised that excellence and success would come easily?

Absolutely not! Because academic excellence, leadership, and success are all defined as a mark of true faithfulness and dedication.

I am inclined to believe that your success today stems from many forms and sources of dedication. Part of success comes from a personal dedication to life as a student and your future as a contributing member of a larger global society.

Allow me to state what most students see as obvious: academic life at Universities in Liberia is rigorous and perhaps unnecessarily tiring. Not in a negative way, but in a way that facilitates challenges, pushes the boundaries, and tests the unknown.

Often times, graduation ceremonies are characterized by emotions resulting from elongated years of hard work and sacrifices. It witnesses hopeful graduates, wearing long robes and square-shaped hats with a tassel that keeps getting in the way. Relatives and friends will gather, many of them emotional, too.

But one thing that is of great importance is discovering who you are beyond these ceremonies. It is about discovering the little part of you that seeks to do right, and building on it for excellence.

Initially, we may encounter some of the obvious answers that you’re God’s creation; that you’re scholars, that you’re brilliant and made of all that is possible; but discovering who we truly are is to unveil our new persona, having been processed through these walls.

Discovering who you are is to begin, from right here and now, to utilize every capacity you have acquired not just for your personal growth, but for the growth and development of your neighborhood, your community, and most importantly your country.  In entreat you to develop and live out patriotic and nationalistic passions that would seek to define your place in our nation’s history positively, always striving to make the light of Liberia across the world brighter by your positive engagements and not dimmer by exhibiting actions that would be inimical to the survivability of our nascent and thriving democracy.

Do not allow your education to push your shoulders high above society, make-believing that you have arrived.

You must instead use your education to look back and pull someone up; to lower your height for someone to stand on your shoulders to see a brighter future; to live simple that others may simply live.

With the growing wave of change in society, some negative, you are required to use your education to avert the negativity thrown at society for the wrong reasons.  

My dear friends, I know that on such a day of graduation, ALL of you have got great ambitions alongside huge expectations of a life out of these walls. Some of those expectations, whether from the government or private sector, may be rising in cadence far above current realities thereby making it difficult to be met. I can assure you that President Weah is quite cognizant of this and is striving to create the right climate to get Liberia’s economy working again, attract new and bold investments into our country to strengthen the private sector which is the engine of growth in any nation and actualize fiscal responsible attitudes throughout national government.

I remind you  that while you may crave all the “WANTS” that you desire, life gives you no guarantees that you’ll get all the “WANTS”. However, it has proven that you do get what you believe, with actions; because a major aspect of the success equation has to do with believing in yourself or what I call, self believability.

Dear friends, simply having the determination to pursue your goals and your dreams by seeking excellence from these walls is a massive success in itself.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to wake up every morning and keep moving and keep motivating yourself to work towards the life that you’ve always imagined living – a life of ultra-professionalism.

The preparation part of the success equation is your journey, which should be celebrated; for success is not simply a destination, but a journey. 

Success is not something that we ARRIVE at one day. Success has everything to do with your individualistic choices, actions and experiences – no matter how massive or meager they are.

Success has to do with being true to who YOU are and how you choose to respond to every circumstance that confronts your life.

As you leave these walls, I entreat you to be grateful for who YOU are and fully appreciate your individuality and all that you have in your life now. 

Do the very best that you can with what you have NOW, while at the same time striving towards  becoming an even better version of yourself.

Be an optimist rather than a pessimist; believe in yourself that you can achieve anything you set out to do and believe that Liberia, under the people-centered leadership of president Weah will continue to rise, though our nation’s current context seemed to be riding waves of difficulties, these waves will subside with the good intentions of our president and the boat will advance to a peaceful shore, avoiding calamitous circumstances.

Let no one make you believe that you’re good for nothing; or that your education is a waste; because you may not have control over what people say or do to you, but you have control over your reaction to what they say or do to you.

For though our education system may be challenged, you still remain our cherished diamonds poised to lead the change and transformation that Liberia so desires. Do not stop here! For the journey of excellence has just begun, and like in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “learning never exhausts the mind”.

You must refuse to dwell on the difficulties of the tasks ahead, but the possibility of the solutions thereto, because life is a paradise of endless possibilities.   

Congratulations! Go, glow and live the moment to impact society in whatever meager ways beyond these walls; for like in the words of the American self-help author Oliver Napolean Hill, if you cannot do great things, do small things in great ways. GOD BLESS GRAND BASSA COUNTY, GOD BLESS LIBERIA…

THANK YOU!!

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