|Potential beyond measure|
Guardian Lifestyles Reporter
Published: Jun 20, 2012
Graduation may be a time of bittersweet memories, but it is also a time to step into reality, when all of the in-class and life lessons accumulated over the years come together. Graduation means that it is time to utilize the opportunities and truly discover the purpose of life. This was what Chelsea Brown, valedictorian of the latest Saint Augustine’s College (SAC) graduating class, impressed upon her peers during her farewell address at their commencement ceremony.
Brown encouraged them to not be afraid to venture out into the brave new world. She told them it was time to fly away from the nest and test the wings their education had given them, and soar to the heights they have been dreaming of reaching.
“Without a doubt, great power comes with great responsibility. It is our duty to take control of our own destiny,” Brown told her classmates. “Let us maximize opportunity. We must search our hearts and find the courage to promise ourselves, promise our families that we will take full advantage of each and every opportunity that will now present itself to us. Let us discover our purpose in life and do what it takes to fulfill it. And let us acknowledge and accept the past. Then, with wisdom, let us look ahead to the future. We can’t live in the past. All that matters now is what we can do and will do.”
Brown told her classmates that it was no longer their parents’ responsibility to motivate them, or their teacher’s purpose to push them, and that she hoped they would find their true passion and pursue it, so that they can make a difference in a new and unique way.
She told them that no matter where they go in life, not to forget where they came from, the people who inspired them and to always be grateful for what they do have.
The 125 graduates were told by Eugene Edwards, the class of 1996 valedictorian, that they had emerged into the real world, and that they needed to start thinking big thoughts that would not only benefit them, but society as a whole. He told them that life will not be a bed of roses as they venture into the new world that is adult life to face the rise in violent crime, youth unemployment, a growing national debt and other social ills.
“Although jubilant an occasion, these are serious times,” said Edwards. ”You will face a [society] rocked by violent crime, youth unemployment, substance abuse and seeing young people being lost to murder and poverty. It is reported that we are almost five billion [dollars] in debt, that we, our children and future generations will have to pay. Our health care system is burdened, and the misery index in our country is high. This is the reality you will face, and although it may sound bleak, this is not to make you fear or to darken this occasion,” he told them.
Despite the cold reality of what they will face, Edwards hoped they would take heart and see the positive side of what they will encounter. He told them that they have the unique chance to make a difference and should not waste it. He added that now, more than ever, the country needs bright young minds to change the course of the country.
Edwards told the graduates that whether they choose to become doctors, lawyers, sanitation workers or teachers, it is essential for them not to forget that they have a duty to be the innovative thinkers and doers the nation desperately needs.
“In my time I had many opportunities. I had big dreams and wanted to do great things. I have not achieved everything, but I am still hopeful,” he said.
Edwards also told the graduates, 63 of whom graduated with honors, that they should take advantage of their blessings and see that life is about helping the masses. He added that they have what it takes to achieve their dreams and beyond.
He told them that despite what they will face and have faced, there is always hope for them, and to always have a reason to keep on believing. He reminded them of Esther in the Bible, who was born a slave but rose to be Queen of Persia, and Joseph, son of Jacob, who was hated and despised by his own brothers, sold into slavery and even left to die. Yet he rose to be the most powerful man in Egypt next to the pharaoh. He reminded them of Dr. Ben Carson, a surgeon who struggled in school and had little interest in education, but was motivated enough to dream big and is still someone the world remembers.
“It is not about the challenge, but believing, persevering, and staying true to God’s purpose for you. Do not be limited. You have what it takes,” said Edwards.
He also encouraged the SAC graduates to keep dreaming big dreams, and not to stay small and insignificant for the sake of pleasing others. He said every student has the potential to be brilliant, fabulous and talented. He noted that every country needs dreamers, thinkers, doers, motivators and believers, and that the SAC graduating class had the potential to be that and so much more.
Valedictorian - Chelsea Brown (3.93 GPA)
Salutatorian - D’Aesha Rahming (3.92 GPA)