PM Douglas Speaks At 2009 UVI Commencement
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Charlotte, Amalie, St. Thomas
May 19, 2009 (CUOPM)
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has urged graduating students at the St. Thomas Campus of the United States Virgin Islands to live successful, meaningful and worthwhile lives and to be persons of compassion.
“I know that modern life can be extremely demanding. Almost every minute of our lives seem to be accounted for. But if you want to live in societies that are peaceful and healthy, if you want to live in communities that are safe and secure, you cannot wait for everyone else to make them so. Instead, as you head out on this wonderful journey called life, I suggest that you try to identify something that you care about that would not benefit you or your family directly, and I further suggest that you try, in some small way, to invest either your time or your money to this cause,” said Dr. Douglas as he delivered the keynote address at the 45th Annual Commencement Ceremony at which 197 degrees were awarded.
“It may be helping adults who cannot read to learn how to do so”¦..it might be a campaign to encourage cleaner communities”¦”¦it might be the fight against the unhealthy eating habits that are causing hypertension and diabetes to skyrocket throughout the Caribbean”¦.it might be teaching little children to dance”¦..or sing”¦”¦or pray,” the St. Kitts and Nevis leader said.
He urged the “unprecedented, victorious and invincible Class of 2009 to “step forward, determined to be a force for good in the world. Step forward, determined to do your very best at all times, and to bring a commitment to excellence in all that you do.”
Dr. Douglas congratulated the students for their perseverance “for having overcome any doubts that may have shaken you, from time to time, during the years of hard work that earned you the right to walk across this elevated stage today.”
“By staying the course and successfully completing this life-altering race, you have put in place an essential cornerstone of a safe and secure future, and I so commend you,” he said.
Dr. Douglas commended the professors and UVI for bringing yet another class of students safely to harbour “for imparting your knowledge and your insights; for helping to shape the minds, hone the skills, focus the energies, and clear the path for all of these many students sitting so proudly before us today.”
“Most of all, though, I commend the parents, the relatives, and the friends who encouraged and challenged, who financed and guided, who berated, soothed, and uplifted these students – not only during their time at this university, but throughout the length and breadth of their lives. Their walk across this stage did not begin when they entered UVI two, three, or four years ago. Today’s walk started long before that, when all along the way they were confronted with choices, large and small, that could have led their lives in completely different directions. But throughout, these students were fortunate enough to have had words of warning, words of advice, words of solace and even words of frustration that, when combined, made today possible. At your moments of greatest triumph and glory, Dear Graduants ““ and this is one such moment – for as long as you may live, always remember to remember, with a grateful heart, all those who, in some way, made your glory and your triumph possible,” said Dr. Douglas.
“You have spent a great deal of time and energy at the University of the Virgin Islands equipping yourself, over these last few years, for what you will do. Some of you want to be teachers. Others, doctors. Some of you want to be administrators, engineers, lawyers, computer programmers, politicians and so on. That is what you will do,” said the Prime Minister.
He pointed out that individuals and societies all over the world will have to begin spending more time on the examination and promotion of values – on what it means to be human.
“And this is what makes this moment so special because you, Class of 2009, are at the thresh-hold of the world that awaits us, but the world that is waiting is the world that you will help to create. This is the world into which we need you to carry important, life-sustaining values forward,” said Dr. Douglas, who added that compassion is key.
“In the midst of your greatest accomplishments and your greatest successes, you must remember to be respectful and helpful in your dealings with those whose lives may not be as “secure” or as “successful” as yours.
“As you move forward, is a trait that you must value highly ““ both in yourself and others ““ and a trait you must work to develop. And then there is the issue of parenting. Just as the acquisition of this degree is an important part of your entry into adulthood, parenting is a role that, for most of you, will also constitute part of your adulthood. I wish to stress to you that this is a task that you must regard with just as much seriousness and just as much dedication as you do the task of being a teacher, a doctor, an office clerk, a farmer, or whatever other career you may choose,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He added that the failure of parenting”¦.the extraordinary emphasis on the acquisition of “material wealth” and “social status” to the exclusion of responsible parenting is wreaking havoc throughout the entire world, and as we try to reverse the consequences of this, we are counting on you, the new generation to show the world another way.
“It is so easy for us to blame only the rough, undisciplined, problematic youth who are wreaking havoc worldwide, but the adults in their lives ““ both wealthy and impoverished – must also shoulder much of the responsibility because it was they who failed to properly shape, and mold, and discipline ““ in other words, to rear the children whom they brought into this world,” said Dr. Douglas.
“Students – responsible, stable children do not just appear on the face of the earth. They are the consequence of years of investment and caring by some person or group of persons. And so, I urge you, Dear Graduants, to commit yourself to ensuring that any child you bring into this world will be a child that is cherished. A child of discipline. A child that is both respectful and worthy of respect. Until you are ready to make that sacred commitment, I urge that you help yourself, help your community, and help the world by simply postponing parenthood,” said the Prime Minister.
“Your life stretches before you like a path un-trod. There will be triumphs, and there will be difficulties. Of that you can be certain. When the triumphs come, be grateful, and give thanks with a humble heart that you were chosen for such a blessing. But keep the braggadocio and arrogance at bay. When the difficulties come, however, do not despair. Do not give in. Life may cause you to bend, at times, but you must never break. Instead, have faith in yourself. At those moments of greatest challenge, calmly, and to the best of your ability, try to map the way out of your difficulties. But never assume that your setbacks or disappointments have to be permanent. See them, instead, as an opportunity to re-think, re-assess, and start again. Remember that in the most successful lives there are always countless moments of private pain”¦..private fear”¦..private trials and doubt. What enabled all successful persons to succeed though is that each time they stumbled, each time they fell; they got back up and tried again,” said Dr. Douglas.