In preparing to speak to you young men, today, I wondered really what my contribution should be. What do I say to you graduands achieving this milestone and hopefully continuing the journey to another milestone. I settled on a conversation, that I know should not exceed 10 minutes, because I am aware that in the joy of this moment, you’ll only be able to listen attentively for that long.
I have been where you are standing today. It is an exciting position to be in, one that brings a strong sense of accomplishment.
So for the next nine minutes, because I have already used one (1) of my allotted ten (10), I am asking for your undivided attention.
Lady Allen joins me in extending commendation to the founding family of Prospect, the Board of Management, the Principal, teachers, Staff, Parents and sponsors for your commitment to this mission of preparing disciplined young men to function in a society where men are not always standing up to their responsibility and giving the required leadership. Today is about the young men, but it would not have been possible without the effort all of you have put in behind the scenes, especially our Parents and Staff.
The graduands stand proudly before us today, representing all of you… the Prospect family– living embodiments of the values you uphold, representing much of what is good and wholesome about our country and its best traditions. CONGRATULATIONS!
I want to make special mention of the uniqueness of this institution. Prospect College is the only one of its kind in Jamaica, so in that way you are already pioneers and I encourage you to remain as such.
The value of You
Young men, the most amazing thing you can accomplish in this life, is mastering yourself, and you do that when you know who you are and understand the principles you CHOOSE to live by. Spending time with yourself is an essential means of self-evaluation, having an idea of who you are, affords you the opportunity to make better decisions for yourself and those around you.
This level of self-awareness within the context of our purpose and contribution to our country allows us to understand the areas for improvement, both on an individual and also on a collaborative level. The hard truth is, the majority of our men are no longer the towers of strength we have come to expect them to be.
Delinquency, compounded with decadence and lawlessness, appear sometimes to be the order of the day. I trust that the values you learned here, as well as, the foundation given by your parents, will serve to help you make the right decisions when you are placed under pressure by peers, to do otherwise.
Looking at all the bright youngsters here today, I can only have faith that I am seeing a bright, productive and prosperous future. I expect that you will be revolutionaries, by being individuals with your own thoughts and opinions, your own skills and interest; being different, but being true to your values.
I expect a level of truth that comes with accountability, to yourselves, to your family and to God, and country.
When you leave here today, you move on to a number of wide-ranging ventures. Some of you have plans, while some may not have decided yet what exactly to do, because the comfort of a secure environment sometimes allows us to delay creating your blueprint for the future you hope to attain.
But it’s never too late to plan; begin today.
Ensure your vision includes the necessary steps to your desired destination.
While plans are important to have, be mindful that invariably you will have to make adjustments, even the best laid plans have variances, and so contingencies must be built in those plans. (As the expression goes in Jamaica, you do not put all your eggs in one basket). Things won’t always be the way you want them to be…
Are you ready to face disappointments? How good are your reflexes, your adaptability, for when life strikes out at you? How strong are you when you don’t have the option of dodging, but to stand strong and take the bruises? Ask your parents or your grandparents, they know what I am talking about.
Young men without a plan, how will you achieve the outcomes you desire? How will you become the person you need to be a year from now, or five years from now? How do you plan to get there? All of us have to be learning and growing every day because it is said that when we are not growing then we are dying. I say this graduands, because I need you to understand that you will need that design or layout to direct you– that sense of purpose and direction, so that you can maximize the blessings that God has for you.
Charge to Take Responsibility and Excel
Gentlemen, you’ve come to the end of one road, only to begin another. On this next leg, there will be no one to monitor and supervise as keenly, as your teachers here at Prospect have done.
A very large ocean going vessel was in the harbor in New York City, ready to sail. So a sailor in a tug boat attached the ropes and pulled it out of the harbor and into the open seas. There, he detached the ropes, saluted the captain of the huge ship and said: “You are on your own now!” Then he returned to prepare another vessel to leave the harbor.
Your journey at Prospect is over today and the next phase of your voyage begins. This leg is where society, your community and your family get a measure of your integrity. This is where you begin to choose and order the things that really matter to you. This is where you take responsibility for yourself and your future. Because “you are on your own now”.
There are times when you will feel as if you have failed. Do not despair!
Do you know that the Lion, when he goes to hunt will fail between 7 – 10 times before he actually catches anything?
85% of his life, on average is failure!
So what makes him the King?
But remember this: ‘your comeback will always be greater than the setback’.
And finally, I leave with you the words of the Jewish prophet Isaiah: “Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
Walk good! Soar like eagles! Grow and prosper! And may God bless you, bless Prospect College, bless us all and bless Jamaica, land we love!
I thank you.