President, Faculty, Staff, Distinguished Guests, and especially our 2015 Graduates: I am delighted and honoured to be here today with you, your families, and our entire ABIIT community.
Graduates, today 75 of you will receive your certificates in one or more of seven disciplines, but soon you will discover that this special event is only a first step on a long road. In fact, in many ways, today marks a new beginning in your life. This rebirth is lauded through this commencement and awards ceremony which is in essence, a celebration of and thanksgiving for lives dedicated to learning and wisdom: learning you have achieved by following the light of knowledge, and wisdom you have acquired from experience and mentoring with love from your family, friends and others who supported you throughout your journey.
We are living in a special age, the age of information, and you came to ABIIT seeking new knowledge. Information in and of itself is not necessarily useful knowledge, and both information and knowledge are insufficient to realize wisdom. One needs a proper education combined with experience to act wisely. My simple message to you is to be guided by the light of knowledge and wisdom so that you can properly shape your future, the future of your country, and the future of the world.
Graduates of ABIIT, if you remember nothing else, remember that success comes to the prepared mind. Success is not like rain that falls from the sky on everyone without distinction. Success is what you reap when you sow with passion and optimism.
Times have changed. The world is more complex, and the Antigua and Barbuda of today is not the one of yester years. We are now in the "global age", threatened by chemical, biological, and natural disasters, and our twin island nation faces real challenges: including tough economic times, the effects of conflicts in the world overseas and in our own backyard, predictions of environmental disasters of the magnitudes we have never seen.
Yes, there are challenges and changes, but you can still make your own success in your own way because you are fortunate enough to have received an exceptional education at an accredited and recognized institution. It is my understanding that your certification will now open doors to furthering your educational experience to a full degree at a number of top class institutions in as short a period as two years.
Your education is unaffordable to at least eighty percent of the six billion people on the planet who make merely a dollar a day. As importantly, Antigua and Barbuda continues to provide you with opportunities that even today many others in the world do not have. Our world today is full of opportunities, and you, the ABIIT graduates, have a unique role to play because of the special education you received in business and information technology and the rational thinking that this education has instilled in you.
YGraduates, this commencement is the initial stage of a developmental process. It is a beginning of a long voyage. In this journey, invest your fortune of knowledge wisely and forge your place and time into opportunity. Have a dream and work hard to realize that dream as did the great man who spoke these resounding words, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Without hard work, we are not entitled to a good life -- and without compassion, we will not attain the good life in a world-majority population of have-nots. The investment of your family and your country in you, was made for a good reason. You need a good education to lead a fuller, richer life; the country needs you to build its future; and the world will be a better place when knowledge replaces ignorance, when you invest what you have learned to help solve the many challenges which we face as a globe, as a region as a nation.
As you set off from ABIIT, I hope that many of you will consider making three very special choices. The first is to believe in something larger than yourself, to get involved in some of the big ideas of our time. I chose health because I honestly believe that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation simply because a healthy people are a more productive people. Giving to others will help make you and others better persons. We will always have the needy with us and it is incumbent upon us to be our brothers and sisters keepers.
Early on in my life I made another choice, which I hope you'll make as well. Whether you are talking about education, career, or service, you're talking about life and life really must have joy. It's supposed to be fun. Take time out to enjoy even the small blessings which come your way. You will discover, if you haven't already that an attitude of gratitude will determine the altitude of your mood and wellbeing. Find the joy in life, because as Ferris Bueller said on his day off, "Life moves pretty fast; and you don't stop and look around once in a while, you're going to miss it."
The third choice that must not be missed is to cherish your human connections: your relationships with family and friends. For several years, you've had impressed upon you the importance to your career, dedication and hard work. No one can dispute this. However, as important as your obligations as a technologist or a business leader will be, you are a human being first. I believe that it is the human connections with spouses, with children and with friends which are the most important investments you will ever make. When your days on earth approach their end, you will never regret not having passed one more test or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent. You have the opportunity now to avoid having such a regret.
So as you go forward to change the world, remember to identify a cause, take time to enjoy life and spend time with those who you care about.
Thank you. God bless you. And may your future be worthy of your dreams.
Congratulations to the Class of 2015.