DR. THE HONOURABLE NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
1ST JUNE, 2022
HLSCC GRADUATION CEREMONY
“CHARTING YOUR COURSE”
A pleasant good morning to each and every one of you; those of you who are present with us physically, and those who are tuned in online.
Let me begin by asking you to join me in a hearty round of applause for all our graduates.
Ordinarily, coursework and assessments can be a demanding venture on their own. But, the distractions and interruptions caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic would undoubtedly have introduced additional challenges for our students – and educators - to overcome.
Notwithstanding this, our graduates have made it to the finish line – at least the finish line of this leg of the marathon, that is their journey to personal and professional development.
For having made it, our graduates deserve to feel especially proud and to be celebrated.
COVID-19 has brought a teaching moment. And that lesson is that pain and struggle are temporary. Difficulties are not insurmountable. You just have to dig a little bit deeper and you will find that you have what it takes to succeed.
And so it will be with many things in life. Just dig deeper. Say your prayers. Apply yourself thoroughly. And you will succeed.
I want take this opportunity to encourage you to celebrate your achievement. Milestones must be celebrated. And you have earned the right to enjoy the good feeling that comes with accomplishment. By all means, soak up that pride and absorb it into your psyche, because that is vital energy that will drive you along your future path.
But, at the same time, do not get too carried away with the celebrations and forget that this is a milestone and not your destination.
There are many more milestones waiting ahead for you to conquer. The destination lies somewhere beyond completing further studies and professional qualifications, securing a good job or establishing your own business, leading a successful career in your chosen field, and creating a well-rounded and fulfilling life that brings you happiness.
Achieving your fullest potential means you have to keep yourself in a state of continuous development and growth. This might sound like a lot of work – and in some respects it is. But when you have the right mind set and the right priorities, continuous development becomes second nature, and it does not feel tedious at all.
The theme for this year’s graduation is “Charting your course”, and this is what you must do with all that you have learnt and achieved during your time at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College. You have to put your experience and your qualifications to work now.
Charting your course starts with having a vision for yourself. Whom or what do you want to be? What do you want to achieve? What are your dreams? What career is aligned with your aspirations?
You have to connect with your true self. What are your passions? What is your identity? What are the things that excite you?
It could be medicine. It could be law. It could be tourism. It could be the environment. It could be auto mechanics. It could be cooking. It could be teaching. It could be sailing. It could be agriculture. It could be events management. It could be helping people. All that matters is that it is something that you are passionate about.
I must caution you not to limit yourself in how you see the world, the job market and even the economy. The opportunities with the greatest potential come to those who are ready to think outside the box.
Once you make your choice, the next step is to set out a roadmap for you to get there. Chart your course.
Look at what skills, training, experience and resources are necessary to take you to and through each and every step on the journey to realizing your vision. Look at what you have in hand and what you need to acquire. And make it your mission to get all the missing pieces to equip you for remaining in continuous motion forward.
One important thing you must note when setting targets is that your goals need to be SMART. And SMART, as you know, stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
Your goals cannot be too vague because then you will not know what you have to achieve, how to go about it and when you have achieved it. Measurability is important for tracking progress.
Achievable and realistic go hand in hand. It is good to be ambitious with your goals. But if you are unreasonably ambitious, then you might have difficulty; and setbacks can throw you off course or dampen your spirits. Constant achievement along the way will keep you motivated.
And finally, it is important to set deadlines and to stick to them. If you say you are going to do something then you need to stick to it.
From time to time, re-assess your position. This is important.
Re-assess your progress. Make sure you are keeping up with your targets, and adjust your course or adjust what you are doing, so that you remain on a path that takes you to your vision.
Pay attention to new developments in your field and how the landscape might change. This can affect how you have to adjust your rudder.
That is the simple and effective secret of how to realize your personal vision.
As your Premier, I want to see each and every one of you succeed in life. The rest of the Government and all the people of the Virgin Islands want the same thing for you.
You have our support, and we will give you all the encouragement we can.
But the most important person in all of this is you. All our support and encouragement will not get the job done if you do not put in the effort, if you do not do the work, and if you do not keep focus.
But we know that you have the indomitable spirit of determination and success inside of you. You are Virgin Islands people after all. And therefore we have full confidence in you.
This is why your entire support network has been there working with you all this time. Your lecturers and instructors, the non-academic and administrative staff, and the officers in the Ministry of Education and the relevant Departments – and even in the other Ministries as well – have all been cheering for you. They have been making sacrifices and putting in extra effort – often times without making a grand show of it; firstly because they consider it their sacred duty, and secondly because they feel fulfilled every time they see one of their students doing well in life.
And let me also say thanks to all of these persons for their contribution to bringing us to this happy day. Their efforts do not go unnoticed. It is appreciated very much because they are making a most invaluable investment in the future of the Virgin Islands and in the sustainability of our people and our way of life.
There is one more thing I would like our graduates to think about before I take my leave. Sometimes, because of our size, we are discouraged from thinking big. Do not fall into that trap.
Many of the problems facing the Virgin Islands are also being faced by other countries large and small. Some examples include recycling and waste management, the impacts of climate change, threats to mangroves and marine ecosystems, food and water security, just to name a few.
Remember, we live in a globalized world. And many of the solutions that you will develop in the course of your career dealing with local problems can be exported and scaled up – or scaled down – for other markets.
Keep this in mind because you could find yourself sitting on the next billion-dollar idea.
I wish to once again congratulate all our graduates on their success, and all the academic, non-academic and administrative staff, public officers, parents, siblings and other well-wishers who were part of this journey.
We all look forward to your individual and collective work continuing to bear fruit well into the future. To our graduates, chart your course and pursue it with love and dedication. May God continue to light your path and may He continue to bless these beautiful Virgin Islands.
I thank you.