On June 12, students from 44 countries came together with family, friends, and well-wishers for their last virtual meetup and to celebrate their academic achievements at the annual School of Arts and Sciences/School of Graduate Studies commencement ceremony.
Over 420 graduates were encouraged to achieve outside the box as they start their new journey into the workplace around the world. Degrees were conferred to the SAS and SGS Class of 2021, as well as the SAS Class of 2020, which could not hold its ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a profound keynote address, Dessima Williams, ambassador for Grenada and permanent representative to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013, challenged SGU’s newest alumni to live a life of service and to commit to doing something special and impactful.
“Go from SGU into the world and help to transform everything that you can—make it better,” said Ambassador Williams. “You are graduating, so you must have gotten some good marks. Go now and make good marks on the world.”
Jonathan Silwanes, BSc ’20, class speaker for the SAS Class of 2020, added that success is not only about achieving your goals, but about being triumphant when faced with hardships.
“As we celebrate our successes together today, I challenge all my fellow graduates to appreciate the journey you’ve been through, applaud yourselves for your accomplishments, and remember the adversity you’ve overcome to reach this point,” he said. “Continue to believe in yourself amidst the challenges that await you in the future. Continue your quest to your dreams and continue to succeed every day.”
Namratha Guruvaiah Sridhara, BSc ’20, class speaker for the School of Arts and Sciences Class of 2021, shared a short story that alluded to the importance of turning one’s struggles into positive learning outcomes.
“Standing here today, our perseverance and willpower to endure has proven to be stronger than any obstacle. Hence, I urge you all to remember this time, not just as a period of difficulty, but look at it as a way to see what you have achieved and what you have overcome. As we embark on our respective paths, there will be harder challenges to come, but as long as you persevere, you will be an unstoppable force.”
Samantha Antoine-Purcell, MEd ’21, class speaker for the School of Graduate Studies, thanked her predecessors for paving the way and implored her fellow classmates to think beyond the assignments and projects and step into alumni roles to pay it forward.
“Today, our graduation is not just the end of the journey,” she said. “Indeed, it is the beginning of our commitment to learning and growing, our commitment to leading lives of purpose and intent. It is our commitment to embracing that which we are—the embodiment of phenomenal thought and action. We have a responsibility to use our collective experiences to profoundly impact our world and positively do so as change agents.”
– Istra Bell