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Commencement and Graduation Address given by the Dean, Dr Hank Duyverman 14/09/2017
My address today is about a journey.
Today marks a special day in Pegasus’s Academic Calendar. It not only marks the Day of Commencement for our new and continuing students, but also the Day of Graduation for many.
For both groups, the day is important, because it signifies the points on a journey – their academic journey – at the start of their adult life.
For some, this is the beginning of their first serious post-secondary study – study that will shape their career choice and their first job.
It is the beginning of being at a new institution, one in which the approach to learning may be significantly different to their previous experiences.
For some, it is the beginning of learning entirely in a language that is not their own.
It will be the time of new friendships, some of which may last a lifetime.
And for those graduating, this day represents an achievement of past endeavors – a time of sweat and perhaps tears, of anxiety and accomplishment, of discovery and personal growth.
For graduates, it is also time to think of serious employment, of further study perhaps, or of their future with their loved ones.
It is a time to dream perhaps of where they may go in life, to explore their heart and to look at life from a different perspective.
It is also a time for them to exercise greater self-dependence, and a time for them to enter the rough and tumble of the real world and to make their way as global citizens.
All this is part of their journey too.
For them, however, today’s graduation is not an end-point in itself. It is merely a point in the bigger journey of life. Each event on this life’s journey has its own beginning, progress and fulfilment. This brief academic journey is no different. It will be one of many such adventures.
And to be reminded, there is no end point in life’s journey, except death.
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple once said:
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
So do not let fear, discord and uncertainty rule your mind. You have been given a great foundation to think for yourselves, to build your character and to engage with the world.
Thirty four years after my last graduation, I have come gradually to understand that teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.
You have been given a good start with Passion, Excellence and Leadership having been instilled in you though your studies.
And what of life’s journey?
The past is irretrievably gone and unsalvageable. What has happened has happened. Never look back.
The future is not knowable, but mysteriously tantalizing. We can only dream. We cannot perceive for ourselves the outcome.
What we have now is the present. Seize it. It is the next beginning in the journey of life.
Joyce DiDonato, a famous operatic soprano, had this to say in a graduation speech she gave in 2014:
“One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, right here, right now, in this single, solitary, monumental moment in your life – is to decide, without apology, to commit to the journey, and not to the outcome.”
So your new journey commences. A new journey for our new students. A new journey for our graduates.
So to our graduates, in the words of Neil Gaiman, if we are to learn from our mistakes, go now, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
Enjoy the ride.