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Published 6th November 2020, 11:43am

Good evening everyone,

2020 graduates of the University College of the Cayman Islands, I am delighted to be here with you this evening to deliver these few remarks as we celebrate this most auspicious event.

I congratulate each of the more than 200 of you who will receive a degree or certificate this evening for all of your hard work and achievement. I also congratulate you for completing your studies despite the challenges of COVID-19. 

I am sure you have heard that oft quoted expression “an investment in education gives you the best returns”. And so I encourage you to not stop here but to continue enhancing your knowledge. 

This year’s commencement theme is fitting: “Embracing Change, Exceeding Expectations”. If there is one thing that the year 2020 has taught each and every one of us is how to live with change, and we have certainly seen a lot of change over the course of this year. But living with change means that we not only have to accept that things are different and to rearrange our lives to accommodate those differences – but to really succeed we must also embrace change. I am sure most of us came to this realization over the last few months with the changing rules as we fought against COVID-19 community spread. We all felt, I know I did, if we were to survive this year we were going to have to come to grips with a new reality and to consider where our future might be. Not only have we needed to reset our expectations but to really excel in this very changed world we would have to exceed them.

The fact that you are graduating tonight is proof that you not only overcame, but embraced the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and retooled your learning arsenal to keep up with your studies.

You have certainly learned a valuable lesson that I believe you will need to carry with you as you embark on your careers or continue with your studies: the train track of life can be derailed at any moment by any unexpected event and you must be ready to adjust to keep going.

If you have drawn the map of your future self and still think that it’s a straight line taking you into old age, erase it. Yes, be focused, set goals and make an earnest effort to achieve them, but remember the likelihood of how you get to a future place that you envision today is going to run into the reality that is life; and probably sooner rather than later. And that’s not a bad thing.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is this:  Your future is going to happen whether planned or unplanned – embrace the changes that life brings and indeed embrace life however long you may be on this earth. Yes life will bring you thrills but also disappointments. There will be moments that will be frightening and heart wrenching, but others that are breathtaking and wonderful. Life is change – embrace it.

I congratulate all of you being recognized tonight. I also take this opportunity to congratulate UCCI on its 45th anniversary. You have come a long way from the little Community College established in 1975.

I also applaud the faculty, staff, families and friends who nurtured these students as they burned the midnight oil to make it to this achievement. Please keep encouraging and supporting them on their journey.

Thank you again for the invitation to join you this evening.