Graduating students of the University of Birmingham, England have been told to “go forth with creative optimism, self-awareness, pride and confidence into a world where life, dreams and tremendous opportunities await.”
The advice to the 800 students came from Dr. Kevin M. Isaac, Nevis’ High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, during commencement exercises on July 12.
“Class of 2012, as you graduate today, I encourage you to celebrate the moment, pat yourselves on the back and say well done. But, I challenge you to embrace your new role and the responsibility which it implies,” Isaacs added.
“You are co-creators of your unfolding destinies. I look at you and I see tomorrow’s promise; and a decade from now, someone among you would be standing where I am today to share your journey,” he told the graduates and their families.
“Do you realize that whichever direction you look in this Hall your eyes will probably eyes those of a future captain of industry; another big-thinker, a future statesman and woman; entrepreneur, innovator, diplomat, politician, professor or vice chancellor?,” he asked as he urged them to think creatively of the possibilities and opportunities which await them on the remarkable journey that will become their lives.
“Do not be discouraged by the irritating recycled news about unemployment, global financial crises and economic downturn. Instead challenge yourselves, at least to try to become the next employer, the next big IPO, or the factors of production which generate the new economic upturn,” said Dr. Isaac, adding:
“I say this because I believe in my heart that the University of Birmingham has empowered and steeled you for success. And yes you have worked hard individually and deserve your own achievements; but collectively you have been gifted the Birmingham University legacy – which means you leave here today with the ability to blaze new paths and to fashion your destinies. One of you could very well join the privileged fraternity of Nobel Laureates of this university.”
Dr. Isaac said he was quite privileged and indeed honoured to share this defining moment with the Graduating Class of 2012 as the ceremony recognizes the hard work, dedication and accomplishment by faculty and administration, parents and most of all the Class of 2012.
“As a proud alumnus, I thank the University for awarding me this honorary degree. As I was reminded a few days ago by one of my diplomatic colleagues, this degree honours my service, but more importantly, it celebrates the diplomatic community in London.
“I am grateful and humbled to be so honoured by such a renowned academic institution. And in sharing the stage with a group of people so rich in promise, I also wish to thank the Class of 2012 for letting me share your moment,” he said.
Dr. Isaac pointed out that it was almost two decades ago, he had the good fortune to graduate from the University of Birmingham.
“Interestingly, back then, I confess not having been wise enough to anticipate or even appreciate the extent to which this University, and the intellectual grounding and motivation I received here, would eventually shape my life. But in many ways, I believe that graduating 17 years ago was much easier than it is today. What do I mean by this?
Essentially, the world of the 1990s did not proceed at its current break-neck pace; access to information was not as ubiquitous; and although globalisation was on everyone’s lips, we did not fully understand the broad implications of being actors in a competitive, global marketplace,” he said.
“We live in a world sometimes complicated by myriad challenges many of which you hear daily on the news and see around you. Yet we also coexist in a truly interconnected space in which access to reams of information which you can harness into knowledge lies literally at your fingertips; the strongest competition may be several time zones away, business partners may be down the street or on another continent; but notably, opportunities for growth and personal development may also exist in sectors yet to be defined,” said Dr. Isaac.
He said he was confident with his own experience that the knowledge the graduating students have acquired during their years at the University of Birmingham and the critical thinking-skills they would have developed will serve them well.
“I can say to you today, that my year here had in fact prepared the groundwork for my career – a career which has taken me on an amazing journey to the United Nations in New York; the State Department and White House in Washington, DC; to serve as Advisor in the Cabinet of the Assistant Secretary General and Country Offices Coordinator within the Washington, DC-based Organization of American States and now to the office of High Commissioner in your wonderful and dynamic capital city of London.”