With an excellent education under their wings, sound advice to lean on and the world before them, greatness is within reach for the St. George’s University Class of 2017.
Such was explained by those who addressed the more than 300 graduates at this month’s commencement ceremony in Grenada, including an SGU alumnus who once stood in the graduates’ shoes.
Joel Jack, BSc SGU ’03, an Assemblyman of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and the Keynote Speaker for the evening, implored his fellow alumni to find their passion, prepare for change, and embrace the future, citing Jim Collins’ inspirational book, “Good to Great.”
“When what you are deeply passionate about and what drives your economic engine come together, not only does your work move towards greatness but so too does your life,” said Jack, Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance and the Economy of THA.
“For in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life.”
Joining him in the family of SGU alumni were graduates representing 33 countries across the globe.
The 2017 class included nearly 150 students from the School of Arts and Sciences and more than 120 from the School of Graduate Studies.
In addition, medical doctorates were conferred on 65 Caribbean graduates, with one new Grenadian veterinarian in attendance.
Ceremonies for the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will take place in June at New York City’s Lincoln Center.
In her address to the crowd, valedictorian Blossom Philbert, BSc ’17, also quoted Collins, saying “greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is a matter of conscious choice.”
She went on to compare life to that of a book, but unlike the chapters of their textbooks, they could not flip forward to see how many more pages were left.
“My next chapter might last four years, whereas the person sitting next to me might write six chapters in four years,” Philbert said.
“It matters not as along as those chapters are representative of the journey that leads to a life full of greatness, which will ultimately give a pleasant read when we flip back through its pages.”
Among the degrees conferred by the School of Graduate Studies, Dr. Trevor Noel became the fifth student – and first Grenadian – to earn his Doctor of Philosophy at SGU.
Dr. Noel was simultaneously inducted into the Gamma Kappa Chapter of the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society for his extraordinary service to public health and invaluable contributions to the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF).
St. George’s University also recognised Dr. Rudi Webster with its Distinguished Service Award for his work spanning the fields of medicine, sports, diplomacy, and politics.
Dr. Webster was instrumental in establishing the Shell Cricket Academy at SGU, where he served as Academy Director – an endeavour which signified that SGU was not just a medical school but much more.
Several of SGU’s Shell Academy graduates went on to play for the West Indies cricket team, including Darren Sammy, who captained the team to two consecutive T20 World Cups.
“To this year’s graduates, all that you have achieved so far shows what you have learned and what you have done,” stated Dr. Webster.
“However, it does not reflect what you can learn, and what you can become. That should be your focus now.”
“Many of us in the Caribbean believe that we are not good enough and that something is missing. This is incredible because the secret to our success already lies within us – it’s called self-acceptance. That was the secret of the West Indies Cricket team’s 15 years of success,” added Dr. Webster.
“Self-acceptance is going to be the key to your success and it differs from self-confidence. Although your self-confidence may fluctuate depending on your success or failure, self-acceptance means you value yourself as a worthwhile human being regardless of if you succeed or you fail. We in the Caribbean are just as smart and have just as much talent as anyone else in the world, and I have proven that.”