By: Stephen G. Fellajuah
MONROVIA – The Stella Maris Polytechnic University (SMPU) on Friday, October 28, 2022 conducted its 23rd Commencement Convocation as the institution conferred bachelor and associate degrees on 606 candidates in several disciplines from five colleges.
Held under the theme “Dream to learn well!! Learn so as to serve well” The indoor program which took place at the Poly GYM St. Joseph campus Capitol Hill, began with a parade from the Monrovia City Corporation and was graced by several government officials and dignitaries.
Delivering the Commencement address, the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy thanked the parents, other family members who have helped the Graduates along the way that they can proudly receive their degrees. He also thanked the University Faculty and staff for reaching the milestone as he commit his support and encouragement.
Amb. McCarthy encouraged the graduates to apply the knowledge that they have obtained so far and perhaps the biggest difference they can make as individual is through the gift of service by building on their strong foundation, saying if they truly serve, their lives and community as well as country will be better.
He said for years the United States has been a proud supporter of Stella Maris Polytechnic University in efforts to fortify its campus, better prepare students for their respective field and improve the academic learning space for Liberian youth.
At the institution, he mentioned that the US has trained teachers, provided scholarships and technical assistance among other support for the University.
Touching on the issue of Liberia, the US Ambassador mentioned to the audience that the phrase he has heard more than once, is Liberia is a country where impunity lives and pointed out that some warlords have become elected politicians and thousand of civil war atrocities have gone unpunished.
He added that rampant corruption goes uncheck. Unfortunately impunity seems to be the opposite of responsibility.
Speaking further, he noted that Liberia is endowed with favorable climate, reliable rainy season , huge agricultural potential, incredible more rich resources with coasts. He wondered why is Liberia among the poorest countries in the world almost years after the civil war.
For instance, he said Singapore which has a land mass of only 283 sq. miles and zero nature resources ranked as the 37 largest economy in the world in 2021 while Rwanda, a land lock country was listed as 16 largest economy in Sub -Sahara Africa in 2022 and the second easiest place to do business in Africa in 2020.
Sierra Leone, he narrated also suffered years of civil war and Ebola is about 40% larger than Liberia and had managed to developed a 582 miles road network of high way, while Liberia struggles to maintain 480 miles. Why is Liberia failing so fast, he further wondered.
Looking at the issue of service, learn to service well. I encourage you graduates to aim higher, the US diploma said.
“What about the representative or senator serving today if he or she appropriate four million tax dollars to a ministry with the expectation that 200,000 will revert to a personal bank account or receive.
“And what about the legislators who ask you for your vote but they don’t want to tell you how they going to spend your money.
“How well are senior government officials serving, who are supposed to be stalwart of the country’s forest resources but are enriching themselves for illegal sales with as much as 60% of timber export going unregulated and untaxed”, he wondered.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Diocesan Administrator Rev. Monsignor Dr. Gabriel Blamo Snosio Jubwe said the students have been adequately prepared to face the myriad of challenges ahead of them but they should remember what it takes to shape their destiny and make their contribution to better the human society.
“Be our goodwill ambassadors of Stella Maris Polytechnic University, support your alma mater, and most especially be of some help to someone who may need to have their way into your alma mater. We will look forward with greater excitement to see each one of you make a difference as graduates, go out there and shine like bright stars of excellence and integrity and be the change you so desire for a better Liberia”, Dr. Jubwe urged the graduates.