As the 2017 graduates of the Cave Hill campus of the University of West Indies accepted their diplomas this morning, they were reminded that this is just the beginning of their developmental journey in adulthood.
Chancellor Robert Bermudez told the graduating class to use the valuable education which they have received throughout their university life, to better themselves, their communities and the wider Caribbean.
“The piece of paper is of little consequence, what is of immense value is the education which you have obtained from attending university,” he said.
“The ability to think critically, to learn is of far greater value than any other material possession, it is one asset which can never be lost or taken from you. It should be the foundation upon which you build your life,” he added.
Bermudez encouraged the graduates to be mentors to younger persons with their communities.
“Always define yourself by the substance of your character as an educated West Indian, you hold a responsibility to your community to provide assistance to those who have been less fortunate,” he said.
A stalwart of the local medical fraternity, Dame Selma Udine Jackman was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by the University.
In her feature address, Dame Selma urged the graduates to deeply ponder on their purpose.
“You are no longer mere Caribbean people. You are members of the global village of planet earth . . . you therefore share the responsibility of safeguarding its future. In doing so, you will need to remember that rights and responsibilities are inseparable Siamese twins. You are responsible for making the choices that will determine the quality and quantity of yours and future generations. You are the guardians of the future,” she stressed.
These sentiments were reiterated by valedictorian Zachary Phillips who received a First Class Honours, Bachelor of Law Degree. The student from Antigua and Barbuda had the Class of 2017 happily chanting “We Made It!”
Phillips told his fellow graduates to use their education and talents to solve the region’s ills and improve the lives of its peoples.
“To all disciplines, don’t think that we are limited to the confines of the current 9-5 working world. We are millennials, let me break it down to 140 characters – find an issue, create the solution, collect the pay cheque and repeat!”