Vice Chancellor’s Speech during the 5th Commencement Ceremony of Riara University on July 9, 2021
Our dear Chancellor Dr. Wilfred Kiboro, Our Founders, Daniel & Eddah Gachukia, Members of the Board of Trustees, Directors, Council Members, Our Partner Organisations, Parents, Guardians, Graduands, Students, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen; Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. I will make this brief in the interest of time.
Before I continue, I invite us to remember two students that we lost in the last 12 months namely Prince Abura and Eric Kenani. Prince, who had a long-term illness, was pursuing a degree in Computer Science. Eric, on the other hand, was pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and if all went well, he was due to graduate in today’s ceremony. I request us to rise for a moment of silence in their remembrance.
Thank you; please be seated.
Let us always take time to be grateful for the gift of life and for the many blessings that we have in life. That is why it gives me immense pleasure to join all of you our wonderful Graduating Class of 2021 on this auspicious occasion of your Commencement.
Today is a very important day not just in the University Calendar as we mark the 5th Commencement Ceremony but also for you the graduands as you celebrate this great milestone. This is the second virtual graduation we are holding since COVID-19 struck, and it is my joy that we did not stop teaching and learning and even graduating students due the challenges of our times. I am glad we have lived up to the expectations of what a University should be as we quickly moved to embrace change and innovate.
This happens also to be the largest graduation ever in the history of Riara University where we are graduating about 450 of you, despite COVID-19 and the lockdowns. Our numbers have been growing over the years and we thank God for that. I therefore congratulate all of you Class of 2021 for overcoming all odds, accepting to be uncomfortable in the transition to online learning, and adapting so well to the new normal to be the pride and joy of your families, friends, relatives and all of us today. For your tireless persistence against all odds, I baptize you The Class of The Indefatigables!, meaning you can never be defeated.
In your stay at Riara University, many of you demonstrated passion not just for academics but you have excelled also in many other areas and we applaud you for that. If I was to enumerate your many achievements I would write an entire book. I will therefore highlight just three students. The first one is Laila Dahir from the School of Business, who among many other achievements successfully participated and completed a Student Exchange Programme at Wuhan University of Technology in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China from September 2018 to February 2019 and has remained our good ambassador in Wuhan. RU insists on giving our students international exposure that empowers them to become global influencers without losing a local touch for business innovation.
Respah Kusienya, also from the School of Business, has shown with dedication that one can excel in studies and other duties. She managed to balance between being a mother, a wife, an employee and a student. Despite losing her two sisters to the Covid-19 pandemic and being quarantined for two weeks, she is graduating top of her class today.
On the other hand, Michelle Wambui Mwangi is an International Relations major. She is passionate about peace and conflict studies as well as diplomacy where she has endeavored to relate her artistic attributes to the field as showcased in her dissertation titled, “The Contribution of Art (Music and Poetry) to the Transformation of Structural Injustices in Kenya.” She is proactive in leadership and co-curricular activities evidenced by her service to the Riara University Student Association as the Vice Chairperson (2020-2021) and to the Kenya Model United Nations Society as the Under-Secretary General (2020-2021). In addition, she is currently representing the University at the international level in an ASA Global Learning project hosted jointly between Riara University and the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Michelle is graduating with a First Class Honours degree in International Relations and Diplomacy and is also the top student from that School.
A round of applause to these and the many other outstanding graduands.
How I wish I would have shaken the hand of each and every one of you. A large majority of you are very well known to me first-hand as you have been my friends, mentees, laughter-buddies, social media networks, etc. People like Leroy, Sikander, Ivy, Emmanuel, Michelle, Waceera, Chriswel, Laura, Kwama, Loverene, Moraa, Kavithe, Miracle, Nguti, Kevin Mutiso, Raju, Koi Julliet, Jeff Kiprop, Yussuf, Zakaria, Tricy, Maureen Muthoni, Lukman, Hamlet, Anita Chesire, Hamdi, Beatrice, Noorah, Churchill, Kevin Onyango, Erick Thetu, Sadimba, Ng’ethe Mwaura, Mohamed, Namasaka, Akello, Singh, Susan, Matthew, Santana, Vanessa, Abdi, Sharley, Mahmoud, Nicole Ahwori, Bethwel, Jolene, Shallinder, Jeneby, Flossie, Peninah, among many others. I have seen you all grow and blossom, I have seen you transform and flourish, I have seen you build yourselves deeply to become the very confident world changers we are seeing today.
I therefore urge you all to join the RU Alumni Association and be active participants as Campus is where lifelong networks are created and cemented. You will need each other out there whether as business partners, workmates, soul-mates, cheering-squads, and friends-in-need. Giving is one of the most altruistic attributes of human beings. This is also the reason that we made the Graduation Booklet a Yearbook as well with your photographs to remind you how far you have come, and who else was there for you in your ups and downs of college life. Do not therefore disappear. Stay in touch. Your Alma Mater (RU) will also need you to come back once in a while to inspire those behind you, mentor them, guide them, give them opportunities, among others. We will also be launching many short courses to help people sharpen their skills continually and will be offering many discounts to alumni, as well as posting many career opportunities to you so please ensure to be on the Alumni mailing list.
To all of you, please know that I truly and deeply treasure you and I count myself so blessed to have known each and every one of you and to have impacted your lives in one way or another. I know a good number of you are continuing with us for further studies but for those leaving, may this not be good bye. We will be waiting to see your amazing stories and watching to see your stars shine bright out there as you impact yourselves and many other citizens of the world. You are destined for greatness.
I wish to sincerely thank and appreciate your dear parents, guardians, sponsors, relatives, and friends that have contributed one way or another to your success story. The investment in them is not in vain. I also wish to sincerely thank my colleagues here at RU, the faculty, staff and students that have stood with these Graduands in their journey so far.
To our many corporate partners, we say a big THANK YOU for providing these Graduands with opportunities for internships, community service, guest lectures, sponsorships, academic trips, preparation for the world of work in our “Corportae World Skills” course, among others. Allow me to name just a few, including NTV and Nation Media Group, Mosound Events, KENET, and Detail International, who are providing capabilities for live streaming today and are partners in many other ways. Other esteemed partners who have been with us over the years include the Commission for University Education, Council of Legal Education, Higher Education Loans Board, IBM, Nairobi Securities Exchange, KPMG, Pedagogical Leadership for Africa (PEDAL) a British-Government funded project hosted by the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR), that helped to train all our faculty to enable teach them online during COVID, Granate Reality Insurance Agency, ACCA, KCB, Airtel, Huawei, ICDL, Text Book Centre, Qwetu Student Residences, KAFOCA Student residences, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, Ashoka East Africa, Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Griffith College (Ireland), University of Central Arkansas (USA), Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Embassy of the Republic of Ireland, Embassy of Israel, York University (Canada), University of Johannesburg (South Africa), BEM Management School, (Dakar, Senegal), Sheridan College (Canada), among others.
Finally my good friends Class of 2021, wow, I lack words to tell you during this moment for how amazing you have been! Just know that challenges will abound out there. Even the King of the Jungle the might Lion succeeds only in approximately 25% of its hunts, meaning it fails 75% of the time. Most of the baby sea turtles get eaten by birds as they make the 50 or so meter dash to the ocean upon hatching, but that does not deter the mother turtles to return each year to lay more eggs, majority of the seeds produced by trees get eaten by birds but that does not deter the trees from flowering and producing even more fruit the next season. I will not lie to you that the world will roll a red carpet for you now that you are graduating. You will receive many regrets, closed doors, heartaches, and let downs, but I know with every ounce of my being that you have what it takes to rise again and conquer every time, like the mighty lion, even if yesterday’s hunt did not succeed, roar like a King or Queen every morning and get up ready to adjust and hunt again till you grab your ultimate success. Sharpen your skills continually, register for thousands of free online courses, start an online business, volunteer to help a small business or mama mboga improve their services, do online freelance work, create a strategic plan for your life, etc. Embrace lifelong learning as the world is constantly changing and it will always be. Recognise that adaptability and innovativeness will be key to your success out there. Soar high and impact the world.
Further, count yourself so privileged to be graduating at a time when Africa is blessed with so many challenges awaiting solutions. May it never be said that a Riara graduate is sitting at home awaiting employment. Engage your neighbour, friends, grandmother, matatu drivers, community leaders, etc to find out their most pressing needs, and create even the simplest of solutions, for therein lies your greatest reward. We have impacted you well, now go be the shining lights of what RU is all about. I MA RU, U R RU, WE ARE RU, RU FOREVER, CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2021.