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Aug 16, 2016

Valedictory Speech 2016

SLS graduates take a group photos during the 2016 graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of Peter Ndung'u.

"The Pro-Chancellor – Rev. Dr. Silvano Ochudho, the Vice-Chancellor, members of staff, distinguished guests and the Class of 2016, good morning. I chose not to begin my message with words but with a number; 27. That is the motto of the university’s rugby team. The story behind it is that the team is meant to be on its A game twenty-four hours a day seven days a week 365 days a year. When you add all the digits, that is 2, 4, 7, 3, 6 and 5 you get 27. It signifies a culture of consistency. This is the culture that forms the fabric upon which the Strathmore name has been woven. It is a culture that has firmly been engrained in us.

 

I must admit that I was impressed yet slightly disappointed when, in my first year, I discovered that Strathmore was one of the only universities known to begin classes on day one. We expected an air of laxity. How wrong we were! We hit the ground running.

 

Group work assignments were always given and provided us with the chance to learn from each other and forge synergy that would have otherwise been untapped. Let us not forget the term papers and take away assignments that we consistently procrastinated. On the bright side, we learnt to work well under pressure and nothing was more respected than a deadline. The Continuous Assessment Tests or CATs as they are commonly known always kept us on our toes. Little did we know that this was the position we would adopt not only during our university years but even afterwards. We learnt to always be ready to put our best foot forward.

 

Four years have flown by at a tremendous speed yet the memories they have left us with are worth a thousand words. How can we forget the multitude of people who flocked the bookshop to photocopy notes as we neared exams? Especially when you realised that your handwritten notes were incoherent and illegible.  It was amusing that each class has that one person to whom we all owe our degree. Truly, we had internalised the university’s motto: Ut omnes unum sint – that all may be one.

 

As we are gathered here today to mark an important milestone in our lives, we must remember that even in our unity we have different paths to follow; some may be conventional yet others may not. It is ironic that as a graduate, everyone else seems to know where we ought to be except ourselves. Fear is often unmentioned yet it grips the heart of every graduate; the fear of not making the right choice, the fear of disappointing those around you and more so, the fear of being forgotten.

 

They say courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to act regardless of the consequences. It is not the chances we take that we regret but rather the chances we do not take. We must let go of our fears and be ready to charter our own paths so that those who come after us will have an example to follow. It is now up to us to decide without apology, to commit to the journey and not to the outcome. By doing so, we will let our own light shine and pass on the flame to the rest. We will lighten up the world.

 

Indeed we may slip and fall along the way but that should neither stop nor discourage us. We simply must get up and pick up the pace. We cannot guarantee success but we guarantee failure by not trying. J.K. Rowling, a world-renowned author once said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Along the way, we must be humble enough to accept guidance from those who have gone before us but be bold enough to blaze our own trail.

 

Allow me to share one of the two most valuable pieces of advice that I received in university. The first, put God first in everything you do for only He knows, with certainty, where you’re meant to be. The second, treat your work like your food: prepare for it, anticipate it, respect it, learn how to make it better and most importantly, always finish it.

 

As we mark the end of some the most illustrious years of our lives, we embark on a new journey. Though we cannot help but look back with nostalgia, we must be ready to forge new memories and legacies. It is a time of new things. Let us not allow uncertainty to cripple us. As we reach the edge of what we know and step out into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that there will be something solid to stand on, or that we will be taught how to fly. Class of 2016, it is our time to jump into the unknown and let the world feel our presence.

 

Thank you all."

 

- Christopher Ndegwa, 2016 Bachelor of Laws graduate.

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