I had the opportunity of gracing a commencement ceremony with my presence. My brother from another mother, Vince was graduating from the Business School of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with a BSc. Hon. in Accounting. The university has over the years stood as a beacon for tertiary education and for decades, the source of Ghana’s technological advancement. I sat through two commencement sessions. The first was the congregation of students from the Faculty of Arts, College of Arts and Social Sciences. Contrary to popular perception, the valedictorian was female; an international student from Nigeria, a sister country to Ghana. She blazed the trail and achieved a Cumulative Weighted Average of 82 in Economics. I was baffled, knowing how hard it is to excel in the dreaded economics discipline and also for the fact that she was a female international student. Her valedictory address proved she was an exceptional student and deserved to be the valedictorian. She kept it brief, to the point and left us with no option but to offer a standing ovation at the end of her speech. She deserved it.
But, sitting through the second session, and for some brief seconds, I had a low point, a nostalgia to say; It dawned on me, how I was dressed in the same “academic pomposity” robe a year ago sitting in the same pews. There was great joy that fateful day, optimism over pessimism, hope over despair and poised to make an impact in the world. Why was I happy and proud?, I had entered the University to pursue a degree in Business Administration, Finance Majors, and through thick and thin, my efforts had been crowned on that 20th day of June 2010. The piece of certificate I was awarded, carried such weight and required four good years of toil, to obtain. “Wow, time flies” I said to myself and came back to reality to enjoy the beauty of the ceremony. After all, this was the 45th congregation ceremony and I had to live the moment and enjoy as a “spectator”.
The ceremony was a mere 2 hour one, and somehow, I subtly knew the order of the ceremony without even having to glance through the program sheet. For every guest and graduating student sitting through the session, the anti-climax moment came they heard the name of the one, for which reason u came mount the podium to receive his or her certificate. Vince received his certificate pretty quickly, and the rest of the minutes spent were to just hear names. Occasionally, I would hear a name that ringed a bell and wait to see who it was, and there were other names so big, i just wanted to see the faces accompanying. It was a good 2 hour spent, watching the “new” generation and breed of graduates.
I then quickly recalled the speech of Mr. Steve Jobs, the C.E.O of Apple; the U.S based company that makes the iProducts – IPod, IPhone, IPad and the Mac Brand. I have so much fondness for Mr. Jobs and hold him in esteem. IPray for him daily, that God strengthens him to live for a lot more decades in good health as he so desires. He was addressing a graduating class of the Stanford University and his speech was a mere 15 minute one, but carried much weight. I want to touch on the main points and relate it to my own circumstances.
The first thing he talked about was connecting the dots. All the things I toiled through and studied throughout uni; books I had to read, projects I had to complete, dreaded class presentations, boring lectures and lecturers, routine of going to lectures and sitting through lengthy sessions, working with bigoted and prat colleagues, relationships built and “unbuilt”, disagreements, pressures and discomfort of examinations, community of students, student politicking, academic expectations, getting along with people, and everything else – I couldn’t see the role it would play in my life after university. But looking back just one year after, I know the role it’s played in making me a better person. Of course it was impossible for me to connect the dots looking forward whilst I was in still in Uni. Again you can’t connect the dots looking forward; u can only connect them looking backwards. So, u have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future, because believing that the dots will connect will give you the confidence to follow your heart.
Moving on he talked about love and loss. Well, I haven’t found what I love to do yet (I’m working on some projects though). But as with all matters of the heart, you know when you find it. You have to find what you love to do and put in all the efforts in it. Just keep looking and don’t settle. Don’t be blown by the winds of life, join the crowd and land yourself a job that makes you clock in and out without a little measure of joy. Sometimes, life will hit you in the head with a brick, other times; the heaviness of being successful would be replaced with the lightness of starting all over again, less certain about anything, DON’T LOSE FAITH. Just Keep On and you will be surprised things will get better year after year and see it all working out for your good. KEEP looking, DON’T settle.
Finally he touched on death, quoting “If you live each day as your last, someday you will most certainly be right”. Remembering all will be dead soon, is the most important tool to make all the big choices in life – almost everything; external expectations, pride, fear, fall away in the face of death leaving what is truly important. Remembering you are going to die is the best way of avoiding thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked; there is no reason not to follow your heart. “Death is the destination we all share, no one has ever escaped it and that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. Its life change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new”. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away – sorry to so be dramatic but its quite true. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life’. ‘Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other peoples thinking, don’t let the noise of other opinions drown down your own inner voice and most important, have the courage to follow your heart.
Steve’s final phrase spoke directly to me and the most important set of words I have heard in a very long time. “STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH!” And at this point, I wish Vince and the graduating class of 2011, same – STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH!