The Great Being saith and I quote: “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom”. Madam Chairperson, Members and Officers of The Grand Bahama American Womens Club, ladies and gentlemen, students, good evening. It is an honor and with great humility I stand before you today, to encourage those candidates selected that will go forward and to thank those that assisted me in the past from this fine club. SCHOLARSHIP is defined as a “commitment to learning.” Scholarship is NOT an inherited quality, but one that is acquired and developed as a result of responsibility, diligence, and dedication. A scholar is willing to spend hours in reading and study, knowing the lasting benefits of a cultured and educated mind. From the detailed works of Aristotle, to Shakespeare and Darwin, the information and the wisdom available to students today is absolutely priceless.
Candidates, I once sat where you are. Let me take you back on my journey, in hopes that it will encourage and motivate you to remain focused on the endeavour that you are about to embark upon. I received the Scholarship for the school year commencing September, 1993. I was advised at the time that the scholarship was for one school year, but with good grades, that year could turn into another year. So, I made the commitment first to God and then to myself to succeed, and with hard work, dedication and determination I was able to achieve the grades, earning the scholarship for five years up to my graduation in 1997. The scholarship allowed me to attend Freeport Anglican High School the now Bishop Michael Eldon School, where I received a quality education in an environment conducive to learning, and a foundation that prepared me for studies beyond High School.
This scholarship was not only an opportunity for my fees to be funded by persons other than my parents but an opportunity to realize that if a group of individuals actually believed in my success, then I too must also realize my potential and believe in me. But let me also confess that at times I got frustrated and overwhelmed and just didn’t feel like studying or reading, and so that mischevious child within would surface. I remember one year a few weeks before exams I went home and told my mother that the grading system at school had changed and if you got a F on your report card it meant FANTASTIC, E meant EXCELLENT, D meant DISTINCTION C meant CREDIT B meant BAD and A meant AWFUL. Well, based on that piercing stare I got from my mother, I immediately studied as I should and made the grade. So I encourage you the recipients, to unlock your potential and make the most of your talents for the future.
So many of us dare to dream of where we will see ourselves in a certain amount of years, what we dream to become, and what career path we desire to pursue. Be assured that education alone can unlock, unravel, and ensure that all dreams, desires and aspirations are achieved and materialized. Remember it was Norman Vincent Peal that said “what ever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” Dreams are the stepping stones to the future, it will open the doors of opportunity allowing you to utilize your full potential. Dreams will ignite in you the spirit of persistency. Nothing in this world can take the place of Persistency. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talents. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistency and determination alone are omnipotent. An honor such as this is a wonderful way to recognize and celebrate the choices, and sometimes the sacrifices, you have made. But I believe that what should make you and your parents the most proud is not the actual honor itself, but what you had to do to get it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” However, do not rest on your laurels alone, but continue to strive towards even loftier goals. Your achievements embody a positive attitude backed by purpose. The only way to achieve your purpose is to take small actions everyday. In the end, they all add up. Scholarship is much more than just getting straight A’s. It is a life-long love of learning. In the end it is a sum of small choices. Each time you decide you WANT to learn something, the experience will be so rewarding that the next time becomes easier.
Soon, learning becomes a habit. At that point, your desire to learn makes getting A’s easier while taking the focus off the grades. The knowledge can still be hard to gain, but knowing you’ve mastered a difficult subject is an awesome reward. Suddenly the world around you becomes richer and full of learning opportunities. You are being given an opportunity. Opportunities are only meaningful if people have the capabilities, the resources, the aspirations to make the most of them. Aspiration matters in every aspect of education: the aspirations of parents for their children from their very earliest years; the aspirations of young people, whether they are going to seize the opportunities available to them; the aspirations of course of teachers, of schools, of local government setting high expectations for achievement; the aspirations of society placing the highest possible cultural value upon learning itself; and of course aspirations of government that sets long term ambitions and matches those ambitions with the necessary investment over the long term to realise them.
In a world where violence and hatred seems to be taking over, I quote “Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess” end quote. Many children are exposed to violence in their communities, in their families, and in the media. Exposure to violence crosses socioeconomic and cultural boundaries, occurring in all groups within our society, and this exposure to violence can have significant effects on children during their development.
The most important protective resource to enable a child to cope with exposure to violence is a strong relationship with a competent, caring, positive adult, most often a parent. But with the support of good parenting by either a parent or other significant adult, a child’s cognitive and social development can proceed positively even with adversity. Violence is in our communities, but ensuring that our children are equipped with and education that enables them to determine right from wrong, then we are one step closer to finding a solution. Families, regardless of their composition, are uniquely structured to provide the attention, nurturing, and safety that children need to grow and develop.
So candidates you have an opportunity to become the solution to this crumbling civilization around us. Through your education, you will look upon your environment, your community and your country with new eyes and new vision. To not take advantage of this opportunity that has been afforded to you, as you have been hand picked out a selection of many qualified applicants. Take this opportunity to push yourself even harder than before. To excel further in all subjects, to be an example to all your classmates. Knowing that the strategic choices that you make today are going to be critical for your long term prosperity.
Make the American Women’s Club proud of the selection made here today. Make learning your life, and success your destination. At this time I would like to say a special thanks to The Grand Bahama American Women’s Club, a club that fosters pioneering initiatives to encourage local young people to think about education and higher learning and for extending such an opportunity to me, an opportunity that honestly, “thank you” doesn’t really convey how appreciative and grateful I am for having been given the opportunity extended to me by this Club. Once again candidates, I close in saying and I quote “To strive, to persevere, ensures ultimate and complete victory” end quote. And remember as Mother Teresa said, “Life is a promise; fulfill it.” Thank you all very much.