“While I cannot speak on all of the things that made each of our journeys here unique, I know that one thing unites us all today: WE DID IT!”
Those were the words of 2012 University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus valedictorian, Dominican Jerelle Joseph, as she addressed the graduating class of 2011/2012 at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex in Barbados on Saturday.
Joseph received a first class Bachelor in Science and Mathematics in the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences. She was also awarded the R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd. prize for Chemistry.
The valedictorian revealed that despite her tremendous success she endured various challenges along the way one of which included losing both parents in January, 2011. She indicated that she was dedicating her graduation to them whom she described as the “wind beneath my wings.”
“It is not so much the end, though the reward is sweet but it is the journey that makes us who we are, that helps us build character, compels us to beat the odds and to succeed regardless of our circumstances. I am certain that the other graduates here today will agree with me that, UWI has without a doubt, shown you what you are really made of,” she said.
Joseph recounted asking one of her mentors some probation questions. “Sir what’s the point to it all? Why do we put ourselves through all this stress and labour, toiling into the wee hours of the morning, only to get a piece of paper in the end to say we have a degree? What’s the point to it all?” she remembered asking.
According to the top student his response to her was quick and blunt but very insightful. “He said, ‘Ever asked yourself, why artists like Da Vinci, who dedicated his life to creating these masterpieces, bothered to do it or why scientists like Einstein, spent so many hours at work to come up with these theories. The answer is why not?’” he told her.
Joesph urged her fellow graduates to be “movers and shakers” of growth, industry and innovation. “I urge that we live our lives with a consciousness of how our actions not only affect our selves but also the people and the space in which we live in.” she also urged them to always acknowledge everyone who was instrumental in their successes,” she said.