December 14, 2017

Over 2100 graduate from UG at 51st Convocation Exercise

– graduates urged to capitalise on country’s oil find

A total of 2,165 students from across seven faculties graduated at the University of Guyana’s 51st convocation exercise last Saturday, and two separate ceremonies were held – the first at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) and the other at the Sophia Exhibition Centre.

Keynote speaker, Dr Dhanpaul Narine

At the morning ceremony at the NCC, the graduates were urged to unite in their diversities with the aim to develop and advance Guyana. This was expressed by keynote speaker Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, a US-based UG Education Resource Ambassador and native of Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo.
Dr. Narine told the graduates of the early struggles he faced before his current success, and disclosed that his mentors included persons from various ethnic groups. To this end, he underscored the need for Guyanese to work in unity to achieve the nation’s objectives – an expressed world view which was expanded through his interactions with Indigenous people during a two-year stint in the Upper Mazaruni.
“We have a system of governance that is broken. We can’t continue with this thing, after 50 years in this country, of ‘us and them’; we can’t have that anymore. As graduates, we have to work and facilitate dialogue where everybody in this country is a winner,” Dr. Narine observed.
He said citizens should see Guyana as their mother country, and he encouraged the university administration and leaders of the country to work out differences to advance Guyana.
Dr. Narine then led the gathering in singing a moving rendition of Bob Marley’s “One Love”.
The University Chancellor, Professfor Nigel Harris, formally opened the day’s proceedings, and congratulated this year’s graduates for their respective feats.
“I wish you well in whatever paths you will undertake. I hope that you will remember and support the University of Guyana in years to come,” he highlighted.
He further related that the 2017 class is poised to capitalise on the “potential resources” that would be garnered from Guyana’s oil find, and he urged the graduands to strive to not only improve their own and their families’ fortunes, but those of the country as a whole.
UG Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, stressed that the graduates must be courageous in their endeavours. He also said that this year’s convocation saw the highest ever number of graduates being bestowed with degrees, diplomas and certificates.
The Vice-Chancellor added that 915 students were conferred with such honours at the National Cultural Centre, while the remaining students received theirs at the evening ceremony at the Sophia Exhibition Centre.
International Relations major Elsie Harry was awarded the President’s Medal for Best Graduating Student, and was this year’s valedictorian.
Delivering the feature address at the afternoon ceremony hosted at the Sophia Exhibition Centre was Guyana’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Rudolph Michael Ten-Pow. He shared with the graduands the life lessons he had learnt since leaving the University of Guyana in 1975.
The ambassador declared that life is full of challenges and opportunities, but noted that one must be discerning enough to recognise the challenges as opportunities. He also acknowledged that Guyana is still experiencing the pains of a growing country.
“By choosing the path of higher education, you’re giving yourself the tools you need to rise to those challenges. You have more computing power in the cell phone you have in your pocket than the American astronauts had on the spaceship that took them to the moon and back…knowledge is freely available at the click of the mouse…,” he said, while positing that no previous generation has had the tools or opportunities, technology or artificial intelligence available today.
Moreover, Ten-Pow emphasised that what sets today’s generation apart from any other is the speed of change in the world — the ability of a man to adapt to the fast changes being an indicator of how successful he will be.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change,” he said, quoting Charles Darwin. Nonetheless, he added that adaptation is not enough, as he charged the graduands to be the agents of change by shaping change to suit their evolving needs, rather than having change being imposed upon them.
In closing, he expounded on the power of imagination to bring about change in society, and advised the graduands to have in possession a set of personal values to guide them throughout life.

Meanwhile, the much-anticipated momentous occasion for hundreds of students quickly went downhill after the administration of the University of Guyana opted for a venue change for the larger of two segments of their 51st Convocation Ceremony on Saturday last.
This decision resulted in over 1200 graduands being cramped into the auditorium of the Sophia Exhibition Centre, while a great number of their family members and loved ones were left exposed to the elements, which was the reason behind shifting the ceremony from the university’s Turkeyen Campus in the first place.
Amidst the unbecoming conditions, students took to social media even as the ceremony was underway to express their displeasures over the unpleasant situation which plagued their graduation day.
Topping the list of grievances aired on the various online platforms was the poor accommodations put in place for the relatives of the graduating students. Adding to that, many relayed concerns in regard to the disorganisation in seating arrangements of the graduands which hindered the smooth flow in the ceremony. Some of the other issues raised were poor ventilation and disruption in audio during the proceeding.
In fact, some even expressed that the mere decision to stage the ceremony at the Sophia Centre was by virtue a disgraceful send off for students who have underwent significant expenses to pursue a tertiary education at the institution.
As such, in light of all that had occurred, the University of Guyana’s Student Society (UGSS) on Monday announced that they have approached the institution’s administration, presenting a list of recommendations to correct the deplorable outcomes of their graduation which was hosted over the weekend.
The UGSS is calling for a refund of portion of the monies invested by the students for their graduation packages.
With criticisms still pouring in following what was dubbed the “disgraceful” Sophia graduation, the University of Guyana’s Tain Campus in Berbice is set to host its Convocation, where more than 200 students will graduate on November 18. As such, the public will be closely looking on with high expectations of the institute correcting its recent mistakes.