The University of Liberia (UL) has commenced its 101st graduation exercises for the academic year 2019/2020, graduating the first batch of 697 candidates from three colleges at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.
The ceremony began with a joint program Monday, February 22, 2021, involving Liberia College of Social Sciences and Humanities, William V.S. Tubman College of Education and the David A. Straz-Sinje Technical and Vocational School.
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.
As it relates to UL Faculty, Ms. Fofana noted that the university has some of the best faculty in the country, but recommends that UL must by all means, take care of its faculty members to ensure that corruption is eliminated from the classrooms.
Speaking directly to the graduates from the three colleges, Madam Fofana told those from the William V.S. Tubman College of Education to be the agents of change when they are called to serve, cautioning them against all forms of abuse of their position in the discharge of their duties, including sex for grade.
“…And some of you are already in the classroom, you must be the ones to inspire your students,” she said, adding that the teachers should be the ones to ensure that their students are happy to go to school.
Ms. Fofana reminded graduates of Liberia College that they are from UL’s foundational college, challenging them to be the agents of change. She urged them to uphold integrity in their respective areas of work and in their communities.
Also speaking to the graduates of Straz-Sinje Technical College, the Commencement Speaker said the dreams of the late Amb. David A. Straz, a philanthropist after whom the college is named, will continue to live with them.
She urged the graduates to help transform their country and their county, Grand Cape Mount where the college is based. She emphasized that they must help the people of Grand Cape Mount to develop and enliven the dream of Amb. Straz.
Earlier in his 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.
The UL President assured them that their investments are highly appreciated and will certainly payoff as they go into the future.
He appreciated the entire University of Liberia family for brightening the light to lead the institution to where it is.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates, the Valedictorian, Mr. Sekou Sidiki Konneh, from the Department of Sociology, who graduated with Magna Cum Laude, said his class was so honored and grateful to the university administration and faculty for all the support in ensuring the success of their academic journey.
Konneh thanked families and friends who stood by their relatives to achieve their academic dreams. He recounted the struggles endured during their time at the University of Liberia but admired the courage of members of the “MENI NINA” Class in overcoming them.
The ceremony was the first of four commencement convocations of the 101st Class of 2020 called “MENI NINA” — an expression from the Kpelleh language which is translated in English as “new beginning.”