Speech by Mr. Gwaha Madwaette, Class of 2017 Speaker, 9th Commencement Ceremony on May 13, 2017
The class of 2017,
Has it occurred to you that the person sitting next to you can change the world someday, and you too can do the same?
Has it occurred to you that the similarity between you and the person sitting next to you is that you are both a representation of what the American university of Nigeria stands for and you both possess the ability and power to make a difference?
Well, in the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all to the 9th commencement ceremony of the American University of Nigeria
Class of 2017, four years ago we came into this university hoping, inquisitive, wondering what the future holds and Just like each and everyone of you, it took me two months to finally understand the meaning of these two words ‘ credit hours.’
I visited the advising office more than 5 times in order to get a better understanding of what the words ‘credit hours’ meant. After every session, they would ask me, do you understand? Knowing fully well that it was still a puzzle to me, I would still respond ‘Yes I do’.
Fellow graduating class, I am here today to remind you all that we have not just overcome the credit hour puzzle, but in fact we have covered more than 123 of them.
Give yourselves a round of applause please.
I vividly recall my first day in class. NES 101. I came late to a class filled with so many juniors and seniors because obviously locating your class on the first day was a struggle. Immediately I entered and everyone turned around and looked at me. In the process of trying to compose myself, I heard a voice say, “Hello there, what is your name?” I turned around and responded, “ma, my name is Gwahadapwa”, I was not surprised when her response was “pardon?” and at this point I said to myself “don’t let this woman bite her tongue” so I decided to shorten the name. I said “just call me Gwaha”. And then she said “sorry.” To cut the story short, we agreed that she would call me by my middle name “Anthony.”
Ladies and gentlemen, it might interest you to know that if I could get a dollar for how many times my name was pronounced incorrectly at AUN, I would be wealthier than the founder today.
The American University of Nigeria is more than just a development university, it more than just where students dream become Africa’s future. The American University of Nigeria is HOME. What does home do to you? It trains you, it builds your confidence, it makes you believe in your abilities, it brings out the best version of you, it transforms you to a star and it deposits in you the power to make a difference. It has prepared us to see the world through a global lense.
At AUN, we were directly exposed to problems in the community through various community service projects and we were faced with the task of constructing strategic ideas on how to solve these problems. In AUN we learned to be our own entrepreneurs.
We are different! what makes us stand out is our extraordinary and unique student life experience. There are numerous platforms for you to grow and develop in various aspects. Be it our Student Government Association, our residence life unit, the honor society, the emerging leader’s academy, our numerous clubs and societies, and even on the sporting field. There was always something for us to do and opportunities for us to excel. For four years, AUN was a daily reminder that we could excel at anything we set our minds to do.
Of course it was not just a joy ride. It took so much time, energy and effort to get to where we are. Today I see smiles all over the place, but behind those smiles were chronicles of Dr Bill Hansen and Dr Tyndall, Keeping up with Dr Biyasa and Dr Wasiq Khan, and the life and times of Dr Gado Alzouma.
Despite all these, we were able to overcome.
Ladies and gentlemen, I must tell you that this class is a unique class. There are so many creative, intelligent and talented people are seated here. It is only in this class that our Mr. AUN, Modu, was not exactly the most physically fit looking person but yet the one of the most brilliant, talented, and entertaining persons I know. It is only in this class will you find Men like Kenny. Only he can prove to you that you can be the highest goal scorer in the AUN football league and still be balling in the honor society. It I only in this class you will find Usman Dahiru, he taught us all that when the going gets tough, only the agile survive. Only in this set will you find Bethsheba Wampana, she taught us all the essence of friendship, determination and perseverance. Only in this class will you find my day one friend, Akim John. He was the run to guy in case of any computer and software problems. Today I am convinced that he will design a security system that will not allow the Nigerian budget to ever get stolen from the house again.
The truth is I can never regret ever coming to AUN. Every one of you seated here have become more than friends to me, you have become family. You have all taught me something unique and I couldn’t have asked for a better set of people to spend these glorious four years with. Thank you for being a part of me.
I want to say a big thank you to Mr Bello, Madam Grace, Johnpaul Offor, Dr. Baker and our Daddy Dean Bullock for their supportive role in my growth and development here at AUN.
To all our lovely parents, thank you for believing in us. May you all live long to reap the fruits of your labour.
Well guys, you can agree with me that AUN was lit. All the concerts with numerous celebrities, weekly dose of suya and caprisonne, conferences, amazing dinners at dean bullock’s house, our 8am classes, our 11:59pm assignment deadlines and end of semester meal ticket struggles are all experiences we can never forget. For indeed these experiences that will forever bind us together.
At this point, all of you want to toss your hat in the air, spread your wings and fly into the world. The reality is that, it does not get any easier from here. As a matter of fact, it might even get harder. There are going to be tougher days, challenges and obstacles. You will fail at something and fall at some point, but remember this, when you fall, get yourself up, dust yourself up and move yourself forward. Martin Luther King one said “You must always keep moving, if you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. By all means, keep moving.”
Before you go, let me remind you. Quoting from the words of American TV Journalist Thomas John “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world”.
Remember to explore, imagine, dream, trust your inner voice, get out of your shell, break boundaries, connect the dots and light up the world.
I will end with a quote from our loving and caring Daddy, Dean Byron Bullock and if you know this, say it along with me.
Everyday has a beginning and everyday has an end, what happens in between is learning. Dear class of 2017, the world is yours, never stop learning. I am your class speaker, Gwaha Madwatte.