opinionBy Philip N. Wesseh
One of the important aspects of communication is the message, that which, someone tries to get to others, whether interpersonally, or in group. Sometimes there exist barriers to good communication and one of such barriers is language, which also relates to words, or semantics that one communicates.
Yesterday, as, I, along with hundreds of parents, relatives, friends and well-wishers sat under the piercing and scourging sun at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville, to attend the Baccalaureate service of the graduating class of the University of Liberia, I was moved by the short, but inspiring sermon of the speaker, Lutheran Bishop, Rev. Dr. Jensen Seyenkulo and also the remarks of the president of the university, Dr. Emmett Dennis.
The newly elected Lutheran Bishop told the graduates in his 10-minute sermon that they should be aware that they "came a mighty long way," and as such, should always remember the source of their success. In addition, he empathically pointed out to them; "you are blessed to be of blessing."
Likewise, Dr. Dennis, in his compendious remarks at the service, among other things described the sermon as being very "inspiring." In his short charge to the graduates, Dr. Dennis, whose leadership continues to receive encomium for uninterrupted academic activities and enviable leadership, told the hundreds of graduates that the issue is "not just graduating, but what you will do after graduating."
As I listened to the two speakers, amid jubilation and happiness from the graduates, something that usually characterizes such occasion, I began to wonder or ruminate as to whether the graduates who all were in a state of ecstasy really got the message of the Bishop and Dr. Dennis. I thought of this because one of the important aspects of graduating is the pieces of advice from the speakers and others at the occasion .It is not just about the pomp and pageantry that are obviously expected during such occasion, but the message or advice of the speakers.
In his message, the newly elected Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Liberia, Rev. Dr. Jensen Seyenkulo among other things, reminded the graduates that they came a mighty long way to ascend to where they are today. Therefore, he said they should always remember from whence they cometh. This is not a gainsaying because initially today's graduates were thousands of candidates who sat the UL entrance, while seeking admission to that institution. They first went through that stage by successfully passing the entrance and then, enrolled. But, as one who experienced this many years ago, enrolling was not an easy exercise, as it can be likened to being in the squirrel's cage.
I do know that as people who entered to continue studies, some have to hustle to get school fees. Others were successful in getting scholarships, while some had to struggle; sometimes begged others to sustain them at the university. There is a likelihood that some of those who entered along with them could not make it, but today, they (graduates) who withstood the vicissitudes of acquiring education from the University of Liberia, can beat their chests and say, "we made it," as the sleepless nights were not in vain.
As the speaker rightly said, they came a long way and should always look back from where they came from to be of service to the society. It is not just about self, but the nation and its people; it is about our common patrimony. As he also said that they are blessed and should therefore be of blessing was a point to remind the graduates that education is not for self, but for the society. As one acquires high education, one is expected to contribute to the growth and development in whatever one finds himself or herself. How useful can education be when it is not of use for society, especially so people who are graduating from tertiary institutions, like the University of Liberia? Like friends, relatives and parents, who turned out yesterday, they expect upon graduation, that the graduates will be of service to the society. Moreover, since the speaker said they are 'blessed" and should be of blessing, this is an additional challenge for them to be of service to mankind.
Similarly, on the remarks of Dr. Dennis that it is not just about graduating, but what one will do after graduation, this is something to the point; it is not ambiguous; it is so clear to mean that wearing the gown to leave the walls of the university, or being a member of the "Black Gown Aristocracy" is another thing, but what matters in all is one's contribution or service after that graduation. Unarguably, fairness, the UL president is challenging the graduates to go out to utilize knowledge acquired. How useful is one's education if such is of no benefit to the society?
As these nearly two thousand graduates walk from the university on Wednesday at the same venue, with degrees in various disciplines, they should always be reminded of using their education for the betterment of society. If there are vices in the society that are retarding national progress and prosperity, they should always make sure that they make a difference; let their acquisition of higher education distinguish them from others; let their education be used to bring pride to the university which is usually referred to as the "Macrocosm of the larger society."
If some educated people in the past had made mistakes, those mistakes should not be repeated, as it is said, people learn from mistakes. If there were educated people in the past that used their education for selfish reasons and self-aggrandizement, then, this present generation should not repeat those mistakes. More importantly, as the nation continues to unabatedly fight against corrupt practices, these graduates, some of whom are already contributing to the society, should guide against the act skullduggery of "I, Me and Myself." It should now be "my country and its people." THIS IS THE CHALLENGE TO THE GRADUTES.