The English poet and dramatist, Joseph Addison is reported to have said of Education that it “is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. At home, (it is) a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament. It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius.” I dare say Education is Ashesi.
The Founder and President of Ashesi, benefactors of Ashesi, distinguished guests, faculty, staff and students, Class of 2008, ladies and gentlemen, one major reason I get to stand before you to read this speech is because I have been to Ashesi. It is therefore with great pride and a huge sense of responsibility that I stand as a representative of the class of 2008 to speak of the many experiences we have had and shared in Ashesi.
It is dreams that have transformed the world so Dr. Awuah, thank you for not letting your dream die away. To our many benefactors, you deserve a fitting honorarium for helping to transform the dream into reality, particularly for those of us graduating today.
To our parents and guardians, we couldn’t be more grateful for your dedication, encouragement and trust in us backed by your financial contribution to what we are and are to become. To all staff and faculty members, you have shown us what it means to have a family even outside the home. You have truly acted “in loco parentis”.
On the 23rd of August, 2004, we assembled from various homes, various parts of the continent with dreams passions, hopes and ambitions. What was the purpose? A light had beckoned us from the hills of Ashesi; it had beckoned to us the dawn of a new beginning. We responded; yes, we did with a mixture of hope, fear and anxiety. We didn’t come empty handed but with torches to light ourselves up in order that we may bring light to the world in return.
Four years down the road, our experience in Ashesi could not be described any less than being kaleidoscopic. The scenes have changed often enough yet that has been the beauty of the values, knowledge and skills imbibed from our education at Ashesi. We have all had a unique and personal journey deriving many lessons to take us through life. The twists, the turns, all the effects of sleepless nights borne out of projects, assignments, and quizzes that were due.
Poco a poco, we have learnt to give off our best at all times, we learnt that an education was beyond the classroom. Mr. Mark Poynter’s classes often brought afore those issues that we often ignored yet shaped our history and society. Mr. Evans Anfom, believed design was everything in life and with that opened our eyes to the worlds of ergonomics and aesthetics.
How can the BA class forget dear Mr. Daniel Torvinyo with his trade mark of consistent weekly quizzes and who felt that two minutes was enough time for him to further a topic even when it was clear to us that class was almost over. He indeed utilized every minute and he really did teach us how much could be accomplished in such little time. His equivalent can be found in our computer science and MIS lecturer, Dr. Suzzanne Buchele whose class could never figure out how she could expect so much yet painstakingly give attention to every little detail of what was presented to her.
The story is a never ending one yet it is necessary that we mention the likes of Dr. Aba Sah whose programming 1 class is still a riddle no one can solve today. How about Prof. Emeritus Amos (of blessed memory’s) calculus class? Does epsilon ring a bell? And it is impossible to forget Dr. Princess Awoonor William (also of blessed memory) and her famous ganja squad.
It is in fact impossible to describe the class of 2008 with one apt word. At the same time, it seems difficult to describe this crème of students who are unique and diverse, unassuming yet complete in themselves. Amongst our greatest achievements is that we are the first class ever in the history of Ashesi to have had exams conducted under the Ashesi Examinations Honour Code i.e. examinations without an invigilator. We are also the first class in the history of Ashesi that has had no records with the Ashesi Judicial Council. This is a reflection of the class’ high standard of ethics and integrity.
The Ashesi Investment Society was spearheaded by members of the class of 2008 who saw the need to set up an avenue for students to prepare for the future financially. The society now boasts of 5 investment clubs. One such club (Money mine Investments) won third position in the 2006 National Investment Competition organized by Databank. It is still no surprise that the Ashesi Debators society was started by a member of this class and also that a class member represented Ashesi for the first time at the TED Global conference in Tanzania last year.
When admitted into Ashesi, the class of 2008 completed a very important milestone in the university’s history as we formed the concluding phase of pioneer students. The class also served as the pioneering batch that launched the university into the system of fall admissions and so served as guinea pigs in many respects.
It would not be a complete reflection of the class’ sentiments if I didn’t mention that prestigious yearly international internships to Goldmann Sachs and Park Hyatt not to mention the semester abroad at the American University of Rome in Italy all skipped the class of 2008. What is the reasoning behind this star crossed fate of ours? It was simply the cost of being pioneers in many respects; a very painful experience; one that made us feel what Jesus Christ must have felt for being the sacrificial lamb.
However, we have refused to be daunted by circumstances. We boast of chief financial officers, public orators, sports managers, financial analysts, farmers, oil engineers, software engineers, computer programmers, investors, politicians all rolled up in this one class. There simply is no other way to qualify and encompass such diversity.
For classes 2009 to 2011 and those yet to be birthed into the Ashesi dream, we beckon you with a clarion call to continually uphold the core ideals of this university: that of Leadership, Citizenship and Scholarship; a call to which you have been mantled, a call to which you have a charge to keep. This is what will place you in the position we proudly sit today; the position to revolutionize Ghana, Africa and the world at large.
On this very day, the 24th of May, we have assembled again. Yes, still with those dreams, passions, hopes and ambitions but with a different purpose. Today we are ready, we have been molded, shaped, beaten into form but most importantly perfected. Today, we are not faced with the fears of our inadequacy but fear of the power we possess to succeed and to stir up change. We believe that with God, nothing is impossible and with this motto, we step out boldly as lights knowing that in shinning we empower others and steer them towards building a better Ghana and Africa. Is it any wonder that today marks the eve of Africa Union Day. Were we not prepared for a time such as this? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the class you should definitely be looking out for. Mark it. In the near future, you would wish you had known us better.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, let me take this opportunity to thank my colleagues for giving me the honour of being their representative. It is an honour I will cherish dearly. Long live the Ashesi class of 2008.
May God bless us all.