Dr. Gray reminded the graduates that life is lot less trouble if one spends it lifting people up, not putting people down, and cautioned them to keep in mind that they will be judged by the intellectual world based on their opinions on issues and your interpretations of critical situations. In his welcome remarks and message delivered last Monday at program marking the 101st commencement convocation of the University of Liberia held at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, Dr. Gray admonished the graduates to be responsible fact-checkers, open-minded scholars, and most of all, persistent truth-tellers.
“Use your education to help develop your community, to contribute positively to society’s advancement and to empower your compatriots, and above all, contribute to new knowledge and innovations”, asserted. The Liberian educator emphasized the importance of the graduates to be an example of life, not darkness, serve as promoters of unity, rectitude and love, not a pillar of division and disunity. He cautioned the graduates to reflect positively and remember the people and the values that helped shape their lives, and that they should always look for what is best in others.
“My father used to say ‘the harder I work, the greater my chances’. Again keep in mind that this world is a stage; We are all actors, we have our own entrances and exits on the stage, and want you to keep peace with yourself; above all try to be happy and always be yourselves.” According to Dr. Gray, there are three special golden rules to follow and observe in life which he attempts to observe carefully. He told the ecstatic graduates that the first rule to observe is “always build on what is best in yourself, and continue to examine who you are and what your interests are, respecting those great things.
“Before his death about 21 years ago, my father, Abraham K. Gray, a former Kru Governor, reminded me that life is less trouble if you spend it lifting people up, not putting people down. Therefore, I challenge you to help others to learn and develop when you can. “You are here today celebrating because our faculty commitment to education and human development. Concerning the third rule, Dr. Gray cautioned graduates to always do their best in whatever they attempt, and never say “I am unable to do this---keep trying, if possible, do it over twenty times, believing in oneself and stressed the need to take reasonable risks with caution. He noted that it’s never too late to do something if you are really committed to it, but make the effort to do it well.
“While for moments of your life you may be master of your own destiny, life may call you to rise to an occasion, or wake you up to what is really important,” Dr. Gray asserted. He continued: For me, when my father died 21 years ago, my equation changed. My father’s death made me realize how precious each second is on this earth. Will you be receptive to what the circumstances of life may be asking you? I believe that inside each of you is a hero awaiting the call to action. In his official message, the President of the University of Liberia, Rev. Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., said Liberia is faced with numerous challenges as it continues to “pick up the pieces to transform to where it ought to be and play its role among the comity of nations.”Dr. Nelson stressed the need to invest and develop the nation’s human resources and capacity in tackling the daunting task of transforming the nation.
He assured the nation that the university is proud and confident of its products from the Liberia College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the William V.S. Tubman’s College of Education and the David A. Straz Sinje Technical and Vocational School. He said all the 697 graduates from the three colleges have been tried and tested and have come out successfully. The UL President congratulated members of the graduating class for their hard work over the years that have made them to be where they are. “I know the road has been rough, the journey has been tough, but through the special grace of God Almighty you have made it through,” said Dr. Nelson, amidst cheers from the audience.
He indicated that the graduates have survived and sustained themselves through the challenges and obstacles and have now come to a successful end of their pursuit of academic excellence at the bachelor’s level at the nation’s premier institution of higher learning– the University of Liberia.
He expressed gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Josephus Gray, Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Liberia, Dr. Cecelia Cassell, Dean of the William V.S. Tubman College of Education and Mr. John M. Seilue, Dean of David A. Straz Sinje Technical and Vocational College for their dedication and service. He also expressed gratitude to faculty members and staff of the various colleges for a job well done in bringing the graduates to the “finishing line.” Dr. Nelson also appreciated the family members and friends of the graduates who supported them in preparation for the future of Liberia and the world at large.
Speaking further, the esteemed university professor and author disclosed that the graduates have overcome borders, and broke through, something which indeed, demonstrates that they are individuals committed to each other, to social change and to the Liberian Society. In relation to the candidates 697 graduates, 438 graduated from Liberia College while 208 graduates of the William V. S. Tubman College of Education (formally Teacher’s College) and 51 from the David A. Straz-Sinje Technical and Vocational College of the University of Liberia. Regarding the 438 graduates from Liberia College, 11 earned their BA Degree in English language, Five in French, 12 in Geography, two in History, 48 in Mass Communication, 14 in Political Science, 275 in Sociology, 19 in Social Work and 52 in Demography.
According to Dr. Gray, to meet the needs of the students and future employers, the members of the faculty are constantly thinking about not only what they teach but also how they teach, propounding that students are given the appropriate practical lessons to enhance their understanding through empirical learning and that they are prepared in a way that they are practically grounded and able to work effectively, think critically and relate to others. He disclosed that the students to enroll at UL were tested in Greek, Latin and Mathematics, and successfully set the academic stage for generations.
The nation’s flagship university was established on February 4, 1862 barely fifteen (15) years after the Independence of the Republic of Liberia. In 1951, Liberia College and the William V. S. Tubman Teachers’ College, now College of Education, merged to form the University of Liberia through the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia (TDEL), based in the United States of America. While the David A. Straz-Sinje Technical and Vocational College was established 2012. The Liberia College is historically the fourth oldest College on the African continent, the second oldest institution of higher learning in West Africa and the oldest in the Republic of Liberia dating far back to centuries ago. The First President was President Joseph Jenkins Roberts and the 15th and current President is Prof. Dr. Julius S. J. Nelson, Jr.
Since its establishment, the university continues to contribute immensely to human development, especially in the field of quality education and academic excellence, creative thinking and research in which all scholarly works are cherished and peer reviewed published. Meanwhile, Liberia College contains 15 academic departments, nine of which confer undergraduate Bachelor’s degrees in several academic disciplines. The Departments of Physical Education and Sports, and History are the oldest established units in the college, they were established in 1862.
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology remains single largest producers of graduates, followed by the Department of Communication and Media Studies, Institutes of Population Studies, and Department of Political Science. Other degrees granting units include the Departments of History, Geography, French Studies, English and Literature, and Social Work, the newest established Bachelor’s degree program. Meanwhile, for the 101st convocation, 3,312 candidates have successfully completed their studies and met the requirement for graduation of which 3,016 in the undergraduate colleges have already graduated while the other 107 candidates in the three Professional Schools, and 189 candidates in the five Graduate Programs will be graduating this week Wednesday at a Joint Convocation program scheduled for the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.
A total of 13 students graduated with honor from Liberia College due to their outstanding academic achievement. Two students graduated with Magna Cum Laude while 11 other graduated with Cum Laude. The two graduates with high distinction are Konneh, Sekou Sidiki of the Department of Sociology and Robert Serge Sainte-Pe of the Department of Communication and Media Studies. The 11 students who graduated with Cum Laude are Hariette D. Gaye, Josiah Jones Fahnboto, Rhoda G. A. Lemgo, Diana Mama Kinomey, Jimmielyn Honeybunch Toe, Solomon Fallah Falkornia, Stamletta Hawa Kortu, Leon Zean Sharty, Pedro Pedinho McCauley, Aaron T. Buahn and Deiode Davis Garnett.
Delivering the keynote address at the 101st commencement convocation, Madam Kula Fofana, Assistant Dean of the David A. Straz-Sinje Technical and Vocational College, said that the road to success is ‘overrated,’ however, she added that the backbone of success is service, hard work, and sleepless nights. “You must work very hard to achieve that,” said Madam Fofana, during the first of three college-based convocations that witnessed the graduation of 697 students. The youthful commencement speaker urged the graduates-many of whom seemed to be of the same age as her — to take their careers very seriously, cautioning them against being complacent at all times.
Ms. Fofana reminded the graduates to understand that failure is part of success, explaining that the more they fail, it is an opportunity for them to learn from their mistakes and correct their past. She noted that the University of Liberia has come a very long way, stating that if it must be on par with other universities in the region and beyond, it must do things differently. “We must be encouraged to contribute to the production of knowledge to better our world and our country,” she said. She suggested that UL must encourage research among its faculty members and students alike while building a competitive academic environment which values quality competitive academic achievement and education.
Additionally, in moving to the future, Ms. Fofana noted that UL students must be encouraged to reduce the militant chants and slogans and focus on building more interest in being knowledge-producing intellectuals who are well prepared to be job creators and not job seekers. Regarding the university’s infrastructural development going to the next 100 years, Ms. Fofana suggested that the classrooms at UL need to be on par with universities in the region, thereby recommending the use of technology that will connect classes to the internet, among others.