The Advisor to President George Manneh Weah and Special Envoy, Dr. Laurence Konmla Bropleh, has enjoined graduates of the William V.S. Tubman University to appreciate their own individuality in order to achieve in life.
“Do the very best that you can with what you have NOW, while at the same time striving toward becoming an even better version of yourself. Be an optimist; believe in yourself that you can achieve anything you set out to do. Let no one make you believe that you’re good for nothing; or that your education is a waste; because you may not have control over what people say or do to you, but you have control over your reaction to what they say or do to you,” Dr. Bropleh told the graduates.
Speaking during the Seventh Commencement Convocation of TU (2019-2020), Dr. Bropleh who proxied for President George Weah as Visitor to the University, further told the graduates that although it is through education that system may be challenged, they still remain Liberia’s cherished diamonds poised to lead the change and transformation that the country so desires.
“Do not stop here! For the journey of excellence has just begun and, like in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, ‘learning never exhausts the mind’. You must refuse to dwell on the difficulties of the tasks ahead, but the possibility of the solutions thereto, because life is a paradise of endless possibilities,” Dr. Bropleh intoned.
“Let me say to you, dear graduates as President John F. Kennedy said to the Americans as he assumed the office of President in 1961: ‘Into your hands more than President Weah’s, will rest the final success or failure of our nation’s course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Liberians has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves, known and unknown of over 250,000 Liberians, many young as you are who lost their lives during Liberia’s darkest period still loom around the country because as Liberians, instead of pushing education, we took up arms against each other for selfish gains.
“Now, however, the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need – not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, a struggle against the common enemies of humankind, tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself, for we must at all times keep the peace,” Dr. Bropleh stated.
Providing a historical backdrop to the role that President William V.S. Tubman played in the reconstruction and democratization of Liberia, Dr. Bropleh reminded the graduates that their University was named after the longest serving President of Liberia; stating that President Tubman, the Tubman University is poised for greatness as it foundationed on the legacies of former President Tubman’s Presidency which was marked by a free enterprise system, democractic tenents, and a pragmatic search for solutions to problems of multinational existence, which included education.
“As a United Methodist prelate and lawyer, President Tubman sought a synthesis composed of individual states retaining their own way of life, but united by mutual exchanges of peoples, goods and ideas, by pacts of non-aggression, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and of perpetual peace.
“In June 1944, President Tubman and former President Edwin Barclay traveled to the White House as guests of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and became the first African heads of state to be received there. That’s a signal of greatness! Indeed, former President Tubman was a man of great honor, and you graduates MUST follow suit as you leave these walls.
“Acquiring knowledge and professional capacity is the most worthwhile decision one can make, considering that it is only with capacity and preparedness that one can lead a successful life of excellence.
“A few years ago, each of you made the firm decision to pursue college education in different fields of study here at the Tubman University with the ultimate goal of securing a career for yourselves.
“I need not restate the challenges that attended your way as you pursued excellence and a lifetime career, but rather hasten to congratulate you on your achievements with a candid reminder that achieving excellence and success is not momentary, but an elongated journey,” Dr. Bropleh reminisced.
“Like you, most of us have had similar encounters of difficulties along life’s journey. The difficulty of low enrollment, non-attendance and frequent drop-outs resulting from the increasing cost of education had remained a major challenge to attaining education long before H.E Dr. George M. Weah became President of Liberia.
“It became particularly shocking upon hearing some time ago that every semester at the University of Liberia in Monrovia, about 20,000 students would process their billings, yet only about 12,000 students would attend and pay.
“Furthermore, about 5,000 of the 12,000 students who would be in attendance are dependent on some form of financial aid or scholarship. The rest of the students do not attend due to the lack of financial means.
“Certainly, this situation cuts across public Universities and colleges across the country, and TU is of no exception. That is why, barely eight months into his leadership, H.E President Weah took the bold step of isolating what seemed one of the biggest challenges confronting our human resource development drive by making undergraduate education free at the University of Liberia and all public universities and colleges across the country.
“Moreover, in the quest to address the aged-old challenge of standing in long queues, delays in the registration processes, lack of systems to effectively and efficiently manage students` records, and to adequately manage the University of Liberia’s Administration and its system in general, H.E President Weah prioritized and provided budgetary support at the very beginning of his Administration for the digitization of the state-run University of Liberia, something the President desires to replicate at all State-run Universities and Colleges across Liberia.
“Noteworthy also, is the government’s policy to take responsibility for the payment of WASSCE fees for ALL senior high school students across the country, as it reduces significantly the burden of parents who now would only need to pay tuition for a child from Grade 7th to 12th.
“These interventions have inarguably demonstrated the President’s commitment to investing in education which is an indispensable and essential thoroughfare to achieving excellence and success.
“But more so, it indicates the government’s determined will to invest not only in physical capital, such as roads, but in human capital, for the over-all growth of our citizens and our economy.
“President Weah and the government of Liberia are aware that no country can develop without investing in the education of its people. As such, have continued to take direct and practical actions towards strengthening Liberia’s educational sector, which forms an integral part of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. The PAPD is considered the linchpin for sustained economic growth and development, because it encapsulates policy actions that are more generally aimed at reducing poverty by improving access to services.
“President Weah believes as President John F. Kennedy said in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961 in Washington DC that, in the new Liberia as espoused by him, we must all seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together, let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.
“The intent of President Weah, like President Kennedy is for all to unite, opposition and ruling party, to heed in all corners of Liberia, the command of the Prophet Isaiah – to ‘undo the heavy burdens….and let the oppressed go free.’ When parents and guardians don’t have to pay exorbitant fees for WASSCE and tuition in public schools, the President is undoing the heavy burdens and setting the economically oppressed free.
“When modern low-cost homes are constructed in the Southeast of Liberia for the first time in its history, the President is undoing the heavy burdens and setting the oppressed free.
“When the road from Pleebo to Fish Town does not get abandoned, but continued by the Weah’s Administration with dedicated plans to continue the road to Zwedru, Tappita, Saclepea and connected to Ganta, the President is undoing the heavy burdens borned by citizens in the Southeast for years and setting those oppressed citizens free from bad roads.
“And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let all sides join in creating a new endeavor – not a new balance of power, but a new Liberia of law – where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved,” Dr. Bropleh stated.
Continuing, Dr. Bropleh told the graduates that on the occasion of their graduation, the Tubman University has elected to increase the labor force in the formal sector of Liberia by a number of enterprising young men and women who have, by all standards, fulfilled all of the requirements prescribed by the University’s authorities.
“I am aware that arriving here was never on a silver platter; I am sure it didn’t come out of patronage, but immense sacrifices. But hey, you were never promised that excellence and success would come easily?
“Absolutely not! Because academic excellence, leadership, and success are all defined as a mark of true faithfulness and dedication.
“Allow me to state what most students see as obvious: academic life at Universities in Liberia is rigorous and perhaps unnecessarily tiring. Not in a negative way, but in a way that facilitates challenges, pushes the boundaries, and tests the unknown.
“Often times, graduation ceremonies are characterized by emotions resulting from elongated years of hard work and sacrifices. It witnesses hopeful graduates, wearing long robes and square-shaped hats with a tassel that keeps getting in the way. Relatives and friends will gather, many of them emotional, too.
“But one thing that is of great importance is discovering who you are beyond these ceremonies. It is about discovering the little part of you that seeks to do right, and building on it for excellence.
“Discovering who you are is to begin, from right here and now, to utilize every capacity you have acquired not just for your personal growth, but for the growth and development of your neighborhood, your community, and most importantly your country. Do not allow your education to push your shoulders high above society, make-believing that you have arrived.
“You must instead use your education to look back and pull someone up; to lower your height for someone to stand on your shoulders to see a brighter future; and, as the late Mahatma Ghandi said, ‘to live simply so that others may simply live’.
“With the growing wave of change in society, some negative, you are required to use your education to avert the negativity thrown at society for the wrong reasons.
“My dear friends, distinguished graduates, I know that on such a day of graduation, ALL of you have got great ambitions alongside huge expectations of a life out of these walls. Some of those expectations, whether from the government or private sector, may be rising in cadence far above current realities thereby making it difficult to be met.
“But be reminded that while you may carve all the “WANTS” that you desire, life gives you no guarantee that you’ll get all the “WANTS”. However, it has proven that you do get what you believe, with actions; because a major aspect of the success equation has to do with believing in yourself as I call it, self-believability.
“It takes an incredible amount of courage to wake up every morning and keep moving and keep motivating yourself to work towards the life that you’ve always imagined living – a life of ultra-professionalism.
“Success is not something that we ARRIVE at one day. Success has everything to do with your individualistic choices, actions and experiences – no matter how massive or meager they are.
:Success has to do with being true to who YOU are and how you choose to respond to every circumstance that confronts your life.
“As you leave these walls as educated young and promising Liberians, I urge you to forge against these enemies a grand and national alliance, using your education to become passionate torch bearers to promote peace, harmony and tranquility in Liberia.
“As I congratulate you again and on behalf of the Visitor to the University, H.E. President Weah, I am cognizant that the energy, the faith, the devotion which you bring to this endeavor will light our country, beginning with the Southeast, and all who serve it. And, the glow from that fire will truly light all of Liberia.
“Congratulations! Go, glow and live the moment to impact society in whatever meager ways beyond these walls; for like in the words of the American self-help author Oliver Napoleon Hill, if you cannot do great things, do small things in great ways. GOD BLESS LIBERIA… Congratulations!” Dr. Bropleh enjoined the graduates.