Parents, administrators, friends, professors and American University of Nigeria class of 2013 welcome. Can you believe it? We are finally graduating. Some years back, most of us nervously walked into these halls just as we were during our first day in school. It has been a short 4 years and a long 4 years. Long because of all the bad homework, drama, boring credit projects, and all the pitfalls that come with learning. Short because of the lasting memories, lifelong friendships, and truly amazing and interesting things we learned in between the infrequent specks of drudgery.
Body of the Speech
The question that lingers in the minds of many is “where to from here?” The answer is as varied as those making up today’s graduating class. Most of us precisely know or claim to know the next step, be it a fulltime job, an internship or just a backpacking voyage to Afghanistan (although I cannot imagine how it could be). Others, me included, certainly have no clue. The biggest thing about college is learning about oneself, and many will leave with just a rough idea of the job they aspire to get or the business enterprise they plan to initiate, nothing more.
Whatever the decision we arrive at, most of us concur that American University of Nigeria was the perfect place to foster our bodies and minds in this decisive learning phase. Beside the recently declared state of emergency, which I frankly thought was an overblown case, Yola was nothing but accommodating to our sometimes rowdy, sometimes silly behavior. The same can be proudly said of our brilliant university. Not only am I a completely different person compared to the man who joined this institution as a freshman a few years ago, but also a better one. I gained much about so much – my self, my interest, my field, and so on. Were we to go back, my older self would not recognize me!
One of the biggest things I learned during the years – again, I am possibly speaking for many of us out here – is that we can only get a single trip around this institution; hence we might enjoy it as well. It is important to find a balance between school, work and fun. “All work no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This may be a quote from a movie, but it is the real truth. A well rounded individual is one who knows a little about everything his or her friends thrash out, and an exciting person takes that information and converse about it, even if the knowledge regarding the topic is limited (Wolfe, Braswell & Field, 2004).
Just as the late Steve Job said, time is a limited resource, so we should not waste it in living other people’s life. Never should you allow yourself to be trapped by a dogma - that is living with the domino effect of other persons’ thinking. Never should we let the noise of other people’s opinion chock our inner voice. And most critical, have nerve to follow your intuition and heart. Somehow, they know what you truly aspire to become. Anything else is less important. Having lots of money does not robotically turn you into a successful person. What everyone wants is money with meaning, a meaningful work, for meaning engenders real richness in one’s life.
What everyone wants is being surrounded by people they treasure, cherish and trust. That is when one is really rich. If one uses his or her influence and status to raise his or her voice on behalf of the voiceless; when one chooses to identify with not only the elites, but also with the poor in the society, then celebration for your existence will not only a family feat, but by millions of people whose lives you helped change. Magic cannot change the world; it is we who have the power inside us already, the power to envision (Tarver, 2002).
To all those wonderful people who were able touch our lives during our stay, we are extremely thankful. To our parents and guardians who always stood by us. To teachers who tirelessly instilled in the passion for learning, to administrators whose primary goal was to make the college experience as marvelous as possible. To friends who were always there for study sessions, pizza parties and all that came in between and to all others who we depended on. Without each other, without you, there would not be a purpose of being here at the American University of Nigeria, since there would not be a way to advance.
Just as the society, life is certainly what we make we make out of it. Many thanks to you all the kind, loving people I met during my stay in Yola. My concerns regarding society and life are much leaner. Even if half the persons I am going to encounter after leaving here are anything like my American University of Nigeria cohorts, I believe that I will have nothing to agonize about. Therefore, American University of Nigeria class of 2013, I take this opportunity to invite you to flip and toss your hats. Why? We made it! This is definitely a terrific milestone that most of us will live to remember for the rest of our lives.
From the bottom of my heart and sincerely, thank you all!