“I Believe: The Hope of Tomorrow”
- Mr. Chairman
- Dr. and Mrs. Ricketts
- Officers and Members of the NCU California Chapter
- Pastors and Church Leaders of the Pacific Coast Conference
- Ladies & Gentlemen
Lady Allen and I are delighted to be here with you and we thank you for the invitation to attend this Luncheon of the Pacific Coast Chapter the Northern Caribbean University (NCU). Thanks for your hospitality, your genuine warmth and support which you have demonstrated to Her Excellency and me and members of my party.
To me, you represent a living extension of the University; NCU outside of its walls, but still embodying its substance and character. There is so much of its ethos that is evident in your fellowship and program. You are also NCU’s devoted caretakers, custodians of the institution’s past and stewards of its future. I commend you for your commitment and dedication to this institution.
I must make special mention of your chapter president Dr. Ricketts and other Officers, and the International Alumni President who flew in to support the local chapter in this important venture.
I also wish to acknowledge the important role which Northern Caribbean University has played and continues to play in the delivery of tertiary education and in the educational system in Jamaica as a whole.
For 8 ½ years, as recently as February this year, I served as Chairman of the Board of Northern Caribbean University. Lady Allen also served as the Human Resource Director. So we have had a very close relationship with the institution and its leaders. We avidly followed the exploits of the technologically savvy Imagine Cup Team from Northern Caribbean University and were as excited as the rest of you when they came 3rd in the world in 2007, and also represented the Americas again at the International Competition in Egypt earlier this year.
The growth and expansion at NCU are phenomenal and I am not surprised if some folks think the pace is too rapid. But as the former chairman of the Board, I will let you into the secret. Much of what has happened rapidly was the effort of the University to catch up with the rest of the tertiary academic world. Fortunately we have a bold and visionary president in the person of Dr Herbert Thompson who knows where he is going and is willing and able to lead the institution into the future.
Unknown to many persons, I am the only one of my siblings who did not attend WIC now NCU as a student, even though as youngsters we were all made aware that our path to the future passes through NCU. In my case God had another plan for me that would take me through NCU in a rather strange way, not as a student, but as its Board Chairman, guiding the policies and plans for the future development.
My path although apparently meandering, was not a chance path. God had a plan for me when He guided me through public College, engaged me for 10 of my most vibrant and energetic years in the public educational system in Jamaica, then manoeuvred me into the Theological Seminary, at AU, preparing me to fulfill my youthful desire to become a Pastor.
For 28 years I served the Church in various capacities as High School Principal, district Pastor, Departmental Director at the Conference and Union levels and President at the Conference and Union levels. While carrying out these functions, I still served on public boards and Commissions and also as a Justice of the Peace. I suspect that unknown to me I was being observed because the rest is history. Even to this moment, I cannot get a logical explanation why someone as unlikely as me was chosen to be the Governor General. Is it any wonder then that the nation was so shocked at the announcement!
I can safely conclude from the articulated expectations that I was chosen to give moral leadership and be a statesman and model for the nation. I am proud that the Christian community could produce one with that blend. For indeed it is not about me as an individual but what I represent.
Undeniably, my appointment has had a positive impact on the Christian community in Jamaica and in particular my faith community, as more individuals have got to know about the Church and the respect level has risen. But it is also a double edged sword as the Church is now in the spotlight and everyone will see the good, the bad and the ugly. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for members to show how they conduct their lives and witness. This appointment has been an inspiration to the Adventist community and other people of faith as many of them have come to the consciousness that they can lead active lives in the public sphere and not compromise their faith.
WHY “I BELIEVE”
Over the past eight (8) months since my Installation as Governor-General of Jamaica, Many persons have asked me: What inspired the message of “I believe?” The truth is that my Inaugural Address had to be my ‘defining moment in time’. I needed to present a position and path that I wanted to follow during my tenure. The “I Believe“ Message, which I presented then and on which I continue to focus, is very simple. It is posited on the premise that each person has the responsibility to:
Believe in yourself that you can be the best, using your God-given talents.
Use your talents and work hard to achieve your personal objectives.
Build a country that is safe and comfortable for you, your families and visitors.
The message of “I Believe“ is applicable to everyone at any stage of development or growth. It is intended to inspire hope – that no matter how desolate our lives or our country may be, we can get past it. We can become worthwhile individuals and our country can once again be a beautiful place, and also become a great nation. I do not think I’m being too idealistic – remember, ‘with God all things are possible.’
Just two (2) weeks ago Lady Allen and I completed the last in a series of island-wide Consultative Breakfasts, which began in May. We met young people, community leaders, representatives of the public and private sector from Portland to Hanover and we brainstormed on how we can improve ourselves and our country. I was amazed at the depth and maturity of the insight and perception demonstrated by some of the young people. The penetrating questions they asked and the astute, insightful comments and suggestions they made were awesome.
In commenting on the economic crisis and the lack of jobs, one young woman declared that every person graduating high school should leave with a skill. E. G. White made that same observation in her seminal work on education written over 100 years ago.
Another young person concerned about the future posited that research should be conducted to project areas of job availability which would be a guide to youngsters in selecting career paths.
THE NCU FACTOR
It is said that whoever or whatever controls the minds of our young people controls the future. If this is to be taken to its logical conclusion, then NCU indeed has a great responsibility. The hundreds of young people who graduate from this institution each year fan out around the globe, carrying with them the values, philosophy and teachings of the University.
The University years are an essential part of one’s life. It is here that young people are taught to be social and sociable individuals and many lasting friendships are made. University also plays a large role in the formation of personalities and character strengths. Graduates of NCU are leaders. Leadership seems to be in their DNA and a part of the culture, as many of the NCU alumni are in key leadership positions, particularly in Jamaica and here in North America. They are in politics, religion, education, science and technology, community work and other areas. The alumni gathered here this afternoon are but a sample of the varied spheres in which NCU graduates are located.
What has led to this extraordinary tradition of producing leaders? NCU graduates respect authority, they have the capacity for independent thought, they work hard, and they also know how to have a good time, of course within the bounds of rectitude. Once an individual attends that ‘dear College on the hill’, he/she becomes changed – changed by the environment, the culture and the teaching which defines the campus, located in the cool parish of Manchester. Graduates of NCU know that ‘learning never ends’ so they are always seeking to equip themselves so they can excel in their chosen field of endeavour
NCU has been building on its illustrious history and tradition. The bar has been set high and it will be the standard by which current and future students will be judged. NCU has established a tradition of excellence. Much can be attained if we believe in ourselves, allow God to lead our lives in paths of service, and if we commit heart and soul to Him. Let us continue to trust and to believe.