By Sonia Boddie
High school graduation is certainly a memorable occasion for all of you, and it gives me great pleasure to remind you as you graduate to “remember yesterday, dream for tomorrow and live for today.”
Sonia Boddie is the CARICOM Youth Ambassador of St Kitts and Nevis
As I reflected on this theme in preparation to address you graduates, I realized that the theme encompasses three very important periods. They are: 1) the past; 2) the present; and 3) the future. The theme also begs of you the graduates to do three important actions. They are: 1) to remember; 2) to dream; and 3) to live.
So, as this leg of your academic life’s journey comes to a close, and you prepare to venture out into the world of work or tertiary education, the theme “remember yesterday, dream for tomorrow, live for today” must be placed at the forefront of your thoughts and actions. Therefore, to ensure that you remember this theme, I will proceed to discuss this theme in three parts.
Firstly, I wish to discuss what is meant by the expression “Remember yesterday.”
Most, if not all of you would have spent the last five years of your life in high school, being taught by various teachers, in various subjects. All of these subjects would have laid the foundation that you are to build upon when you continue learning at tertiary institutions of education, or when you venture into the world of work.
Similarly, you would have no doubt been taught other morals, values and principles, such as respecting yourself and others, respecting those in authority, making wise choices, following good company and being a person who is punctual, disciplined, hardworking, helpful, positive and a law-abiding, exemplary student and citizen of this federation.
These qualities are important things as well, which you must always hold to steadfastly as you continue your life’s journey. These are NOT to be thrown out the door, as you do with old things. These will help to shape you, and mould you into outstanding students from this country, and indeed at this crucial time in our country’s history, we need more youth role models to set examples for the other youth.
So, as my late grandmother always echoed to me, “If you learn something, you cannot forget it, you should remember, because you do not learn to forget!” The education and moral instruction you received at school will without a doubt help to shape who you become tomorrow.
So I say to you graduates, even if you were punished for failing to do what was required of you, or for doing something that was wrong, you should reflect on each situation, as a lesson that is so well learnt, so that you will not repeat such actions going forward, but rather make the decision to do even better.
Hence, as you climb one more step up the ladder of life, and make your leap from secondary school to tertiary education or to the job market, the “remember yesterday”, part of this theme encourages you to not only remember that you would have passed x or y number of CXC subjects, but it encourages you to also hold on tightly to all of the other things you would have learnt over the years, and use them as a compass to making the right decisions as you advance in life.
Be advised that college and university is not the same, as secondary school. The world of work, much less. They will never be! But the beauty about what awaits you ahead is the fact that, once you remember what you would have been taught, you will be able to remain focused and overcome all the challenges that may confront you. Nothing is impossible with God. The scripture says in Philippians 4 verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And I know he strengthens all of you as well, so you have the capacity to remember and excel. Take this scripture with you wherever you may go, it will apply to every stage in life.
The second part of the theme says “Dream for tomorrow”, and indeed I know some of you are still thinking it is all a dream that your high school days have come to an end. You are still in disbelief that your days of idle play on the corridors and challenging the teachers, amongst other things, are no more. However, it is not a dream, it is reality. But you can and should continue to dream big and dream of a brighter tomorrow.
However, dreaming is not enough, you must take the necessary actions, beginning today, to ensure your dreams come to fruition in time to come. As Yolanda Adams sang so beautifully in her song “ Never Give Up”, you must “Keep the dream alive don’t let it die, if something deep inside, keeps inspiring you to try, don’t ever give up, don’t ever give up on you, don’t give up. Every victory comes in time, work today to face tomorrow.”
Therefore, as you ponder on your career paths, ensure that the decisions you make will bring you not only immediate financial rewards, but long term benefits that will continue to improve your standard of living, not just for self but that of your parents and your own families. Examine what are the needs of our country and region, as we continue to evolve into a more modern Caribbean society and choose your careers wisely.
Day by day we see more and more consultants and skilled personnel visiting our shores to do jobs that our nationals are not qualified to do. Look at these areas and acquire the skills and knowledge in these subject areas, so that in the not too distant future you are all the leaders spearheading the nation-building efforts of this country.
So, as the late great Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung once said, “The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you. The world belongs to you. The future belongs to you.”
Therefore, I say to you dream of a prosperous tomorrow, begin fashioning your minds today, to positively change the future.
As we look at the last part of this theme: “Live for today”, it is my duty to charge all of you with the responsibility of embracing every moment that you have been blessed with and to make the best of it. Do not put off for tomorrow, what you can do today. Do not allow opportunities, to pass you. Carpe diem! Seize the day!
For as the famous American writer Orison Swett Marden once said, “Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.”
Live up today! Do not hesitate or delay applying to go to college or university, or applying for that vacancy you just saw posted in the newspaper or online, or just using your God-given talents for a greater purpose. It is said, that procrastination is the enemy of success and the assassin of opportunity.
So as the famous motivational speaker, the late Zig Ziglar, once said, “Most people underestimate today and overestimate tomorrow. They promise themselves that they’re going to turn their lives around tomorrow…but ‘tomorrow’ never comes. Success is determined by the daily decisions you make and the daily disciplines you practice. That’s it.”
Therefore, as I end, it is my prayer that you would have been inspired by these few words, and you would always Remember yesterday, Dream for tomorrow, and Live for today.
Congratulations to all of you and all the very best in your future endeavours.