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A Valedictorian's Address
Sir Edmund Hillary cleverly stated that “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” and I wish to commence this address by congratulating the Graduating Class of 2016 as each of us conquered ourselves to bring higher learning and achievement into our fold. I know that we all worked tirelessly during our time spent at Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, and we finished our journeys exhausted, but exhilarated, having triumphed over countless obstacles and demonstrated that with our new arsenal of knowledge, skills and attitudes we are now equipped to shape the world and ensure our dreams become our legacy. My speech is entitled “Pieces of Me/ a Reflection of You”. When I decided to pursue an MBA in Sustainable Energy Management that was certainly not what everyone expected of me.For all of my professional career, I was firstly a Criminal Prosecutor and then I transitioned to being a Defence Attorney. In front of me lay the possibility of being appointed as a Magistrate or at least a significant promotion at work. So when I started vocalizing my interest in sustainable energy matters and global energy markets, my closest friends and colleagues were quite uncomfortable, to say the least. My mother, in the spirit of Mother Teresa, told me “when something is buried in your heart, that is a matter between you and God. Sometimes you stand alone but that’s what makes you stand out.” It was all the comfort I needed to embark on this journey in the area of sustainable energy, which is strongly aligned to my desire to leave this world a little better than we met it.
During this journey, even though we were placed in teams, which became our families, during and after our education at the Lok Jack GSB, there was never a moment when I forgot that my success or failure was a matter between myself and God. Sometimes we leave our dreams buried in the dust of our ordinary lives, but I know for me and my closest friends that our drive to succeed is strengthened by the understanding that we were destined to do more. Define more, we couldn’t, but it was that uneasy feeling that fell asleep with you and awoke with you the next morning, convincing you that if you continued to stand where you stood and failed to move that your sum total would always be less than your parts.
When we first started at the Lok Jack GSB, we were all placed into groups. I recall my Group Leader stating, when deciding to choose me as part of the group that “Everyone needs a Lawyer at some point.” That was the day I realized that all my skills and my Courtroom experience would only take me to the first rung of the ladder I was required to climb in order to be standing here today. It really did not help when persons tried to offer well-meaning advice at class that “maybe this programme was not the best choice for me” as a lawyer, because after all I was surrounded by engineers in an engineering type programme, with what looked to me like calculations from another planet. To me though, all that happened through that process was a rising up of a desire to succeed; to prove that if anyone could make it, it would be me.
I became motivated by the strangest things (I think we all did): the desire to be challenged by Conrad Enill, who had the uncanny ability to argue any side of the coin, that is, if a coin had ten sides; Mariano Browne’s classes, where you learned about everything, all at once, like the fact that there are more than 4,000 types of potatoes in Peru (a thought that crosses my mind every time I order French fries); Dr. Furlonge’s piercing questions and exams which made you proud just to say that you attempted to answer; Genevieve’s references to El Commandante every time she spoke of Aldon, Dr. Zaffar Khan’s stories about life and the boyish charm of Dr. Joseph Khan. Those were the opening strokes of the beautiful drawing we had started to sketch. Please join me in thanking and congratulating the faculty who taught us, led us, guided and inspired us!
Groups became friends and family, where a weekend study session turned into who’s cooking what and total strangers became brothers and sisters. Yes, I chose my words carefully, because brothers and sisters tend to be the hardest on each other, but at least you were family after the tantrums and the tears. I must say, to all of you, that just like a family, you have indelibly etched your markings on my heart, and though we may all go our separate ways, intent on making our mark in this world, I will always carry a part of you with me, because you have helped shape me into who I am today. Before I move on, I want to say a special thank you to Latoya Richards, who taught me what it means to persevere on a whole new level, who taught me what it means to be courageous in the face of defeat and humble in the face of victory. I also want to say to Aldon that at some point we seriously need to consider going after the red robes. The Lok Jack GSB seems to be a place where one is naturally inspired to learn more and do more.
But our lives and our success are not just a result of our efforts and the School’s design. We are all gifted with a number of people who comprise our families, relatives and a circle of support for our entire lives. Graduates, please stand and show your gratitude to the family members and friends that are here with us this evening. and who have been with us through our most trying times during our studies and our lives (pause and lead the standing ovation). We could not have made it without you and our successes are nothing more than a manifestation of your tireless encouragement and support when we needed you most. To my dearest husband, I thank you for standing beside me and propping me up when the load felt like too much to bear.
Before I end, I simply wish to leave with you some of the most valuable lessons which I have learned at during my studies at Lok Jack GSB:
- Attitude. The most important lesson we all take away from Lok Jack GSB is to be Authentic.
- Be Brave. Even when it terrifies you, especially when it terrifies you, do it!
- Challenges require courage but in the end, change is the only thing that is standing between where you are and where you hope to be.
- Dare to be Different. We owe it to our world to move it forward by challenging the status quo.
- Humility is a strength; don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It is the antidote of ego.
- I is a complete word, but it seldom accomplishes everything by itself.
- MBA are not just letters, they are keys to doors which were previously closed to us.
- Regret nothing, instead realize that good or bad, your experiences have brought you to this point.
- Trust your instincts; there is Truth in them.
- Victory is not only what happens on the mountaintops, but the sum of all our accomplishments while we are still in the valley.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is here our journey ends. But our work has just started. Our country and our region is in crisis and depends on us to move it forward and return it to the days of glory. Together we will drive its growth, unite its people, create new contributions and develop new habits that reflect our advancement as a single humanity. It was honour to have met you and an even greater honour that I get to keep some of you as friends and confidants. Thank you to the amazing Team at Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business and once again, congratulations to the Graduating Class!