On behalf of every last member of my class, I would like to thank you sincerely for your presence here today. I stand here alone, but my words carry the weight of the entire 2013 year group. Those words fail in conveying just how excited we are at having finally, finally reached this day - our last in Ashesi; the first (as they say) of the rest of our lives.
In August 2009, we walked into Ashesi - with hope in our hearts - to begin life’s next big chapter. Today we bear witness to the end of that chapter and the birth of another.
Graduation is naturally the most awaited event in the life of any student. Asked to represent my class, I thought of all the stories we have to tell and suddenly felt nervous, gripped by the future’s uncertainty.
Just a few weeks ago we were rushing to finish our capstone projects and exams. Our workload at the time made today seem further than it actually was. Even with that in mind - YES - we still made time to procrastinate. But we made it through and know now that we will make it through the future because Ashesi has equipped us for it. We know that every seminar, every speech, every lecture we not only attended but took part in was designed not to stifle us but to equip us far beyond what preparations other schools offer. For this we thank our lecturers, staff and everyone who contributed to our experience in Ashesi, including our parents.
Ladies and gentlemen, please understand: the students seated before you today are no ordinary students. More than any year group before us or after us, we represent the Ashesi story: a story of humble beginnings and incredible impact. We are the only year group that experienced two years on our old campus in Labone, as well as two years at our new campus in Berekuso.
To the uninitiated, this fact may not sound like a big deal. For us however, it was the exact opposite. We were not too excited by the move at first. We loved Labone. It was in the middle of town and we were spoilt for choice with things to do and places to go. While we immediately fell in love with the beautiful infrastructure, air and scenery at Berekuso, we also felt a little like we had been sent into exile in a foreign land with what initially seemed like nowhere to go and nothing to do. No Melting Moments. No Honeysuckle. No Osu. God forbid, but it looked like we had nothing left to do but study.
This may please our parents, but university is about a lot more than just books and examinations. University moulds you, and as far as we are concerned, Ashesi moulded us more than any university in Ghana could. It was the last stop on our journey from being teenagers into becoming adults.
More than just scholarship, Ashesi taught us leadership. Perhaps more than any year group before us, we also learned about honour.
In 2011, many of us were summoned before the Ashesi Judicial Council on suspicion of having breached Ashesi’s Honour Code. Some of our fellow students at the time are not here with us in this hall today. Many may look back at that incident and think of it as a bad thing. However, it galvanized the entire community and everybody learned lessons from it. It reminded me of something that my grandfather used to say a lot. “We cannot direct the winds but we can adjust the sails”. Indeed, strong winds caused much change in our class, but like a vessel on turbulent seas, we did not let the storm engulf us in its rage. We learned to adjust our sails. We learned to grow. Growth requires us to learn from our mistakes and this we did. We wish our friends who did not make it here today the best wherever they may be. It is not that we are more deserving than they are, but it is by grace that we made it.
For two years, we strived towards a perfection that some would claim to be impossible. Our endless efforts were rewarded in April, 2013 when we were put back on the Honor Code. It was one of our proudest moments. We had taken on the impossible and beaten it, learning something new in the process: passion + persistence = possibility. And in spite of our losses, our class is the largest graduating class in Ashesi’s history.
Today marks a day that was little more than a dream when we first joined Ashesi. Today we gather here not just as one graduating class, but as a part of something bigger: the Ashesi community. Past, present and future. The journey we have taken is one that unites us with those who treaded the path before us and those who will walk in our footsteps in all the years to come.
We leave with many a memory to hang onto. Going back to the first year, we remember Mrs. Awuah’s pre-calculus assignments that kept us up all night and gave calculus students an excuse to laugh at us. I remember how we were challenged by other year groups to a game of soccer and how our boys stepped onto that field and won. That day, we taught the rest of school that we were a force to be reckoned with. We will never forget Mr. Spio’s enthusiasm in everything he did and the famous sayings of some of our lecturers; Papa T’s “you guys are good”, Mr.Dzandu’s “The truf of the matter is”, Franklin Amoo’s “Fellow programmers yeh yeh.” We will remember all of these with fondness and those memories will arm us and keep us warm in all the storms that life will throw at us. We will endure.
Class of 2013, we have overcome many challenges to get here today. In doing so, we have each already achieved a taste of success in our life’s journey. There is more to come. Even as we reminisce, life moves on. It is ours for the taking. Our next chapter starts today, so Class of 2013, hold your hats and walk out of this hall and into the world full of passion and persistence. Embrace not the possibility but rather the certainty that you are Africa’s future.