I want to first thank God for making it possible for all of us to be here. Madam Guest speaker, Mr. Chairman and members of the board, invited guests, graduates, parents, and friends; today marks a very special day in the history of Starz College of Science and Technology and our nation… The first batch of students to receive a Bachelor in Technology in the history of our country, Liberia.
March 13, 2017, will forever be an ache in history as the first graduation of this great college. Let me use this opportunity to express the personal graduate I feel because of the remarkable journey I have been through to make this day possible. As a Liberian and an African, 2007 was a very difficult time for me. Many of my frustrations and challenges had nothing to do with my current state at the time. I was a young instructor at Shaw University and Middle Creek High school earning a decent living.
But I refer to this as a challenging period because I was tone between where I was and where I wanted to be. I watched thousands of young people come through my door every year, and after a while leave for bigger and better opportunities. This placed a huge burden on my heart knowing there were so many young people with amazing potential in my country that could one day transform our nation through the use of technology. But most of that talent were being misplaced or swallow in areas that were of no interest to them. The sad reality was, they had nowhere to hone their skills in the area they truly love. Most times it was too costly to travel outside of Liberia just to gain minimum skills in ICT
I wanted those young future technology professionals many of whom are here today to have a place that would prepare them the right way so that when they go out into the world they will be judged on the basis on distinction. I wanted you; Liberia’s most valuable assets to possess the ability to become change makers in a challenged society. I want you to move off the sideline as spectators and become players in the rebuilding of our nation. It is in this birth I took a leap of faith reaching out to anyone who would hear me and help make this dream a reality. I am thankful to some special people that it happened and because of that, I can proudly say we have accomplished so much so soon.
I’d be remiss if I don’t mention Some of our accomplishments:
Over the last 7 years, we have had over four thousand students enroll in our degree programs and over 6000 in 30 or more different certificate areas. We have trained or worked with over 100 government agencies, ministries, NGOs etc. We have worked with USAID and other key stakeholders to improve government capacity through the USAIDGEMS and other programs. Over 70 percent of our students who have completed training with us are now working and contributing meaningfully to this country. Every graduate here today has a job and/or have done an internship. We established a bridge program between High School and College called the Starz for high school program helping young people transition into college seamlessly.
We have in partnership with organizations such as the Gbowee foundation and others, establish Computer Training programs for the deaf community, many of whom are marginalized in our country. We found a way to take College education to our people by opening several branches in Monrovia and partnering with institutions such as the Grand Bassa community college to serve more people.
We established an innovation center not just for our students but for the community we serve in partnership with credible organizations such as Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Libtelco. We also recognized that learning is not only accomplished in the classroom, so we established a career development center in partnership with Chevron to help develop other key and necessary skills in our students.
We have also change the way education is implemented and provided to our people by digitizing our school management system which allows our students to register online, receive grade sheets and transcript through the internet and our teacher a more effective way to do their jobs via the internet. It not necessary for me to go on and on but I felt it was important to outline these few because what I am about to say next is crucial.
To accomplish what I’ve just stated was not an easy task. Especially doing it without any help. The College today receives no subsidy from anywhere. The growth and running of the College have been mainly accomplished by students’ tuitions. This is not being said as a way of complaining but rather it demonstrates what’s possible when Liberians put their minds to something – how much we can accomplish. This statement undercuts the notion that Liberians cannot accomplish or achieve great things like other African counterparts. I speak for all well-meaning Liberians when I say, all we need to effect change is an opportunity. I call on the government and members of the legislature to see reason in helping to assist our College so that more Liberians can become beneficiaries of the great and unique programs we are doing.
To our graduates, today is a bittersweet day; the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Let me first congratulate you on what you have accomplished today. It was not easy. It came with trials, challenges, and some cases disappointment. Some of you did not see light at the end of the tunnel. You saw the distance as too long; too steep, too hard and insurmountable. Today speaks volumes about your resilience, your commitment to hard work, your ability to rise above all the challenges and succeed.
Your success will serve as inspirations to many who know you from home or the communities you hail from. You have inspired someone somewhere to dare to be different. Your accomplishments will we celebrated by your family but will, more importantly, be utilized by your country. We find ourselves in a digital age where everything involves technology. Your creativity and innovation will lead the way for true transformation in our nation. You came you saw and you achieved. Now as you leave, you have a new mandate. Go into the world and become agents for change. Always strive for excellence and settle only for the best.
To everyone present, my parting message is simple. We are from different backgrounds, beliefs, and counties but we are united as a people by our common values, nationality, and flag. Let’s spend most of our time working for the common good of this nation. We owe this to future generations to leave behind a Liberia that is far better than the one we inherited that is the call of our generation that is the challenge of our time.
I am proud to say I played a small role in what will someday be a huge change for Liberia. I leave you with these words, Hatch your wagon to something bigger than yourself.