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“What about Graduation?”

Being a Valedictory Speech Presented to Graduands of Sarkin Yamma Community College of Education (SYACCOE), Tilden Fulani by SYACCOE Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Justine DYIKUK during the Thanksgiving Mass of Class of 2021 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Jimpi, Toro LGA, Bauchi, Bauchi State on 14/03/2021.

While I congratulate you on this feat, I would like to begin by asking: “What about Graduation?” For graduands like you, graduation might mean “finishing school.” Well, I am sure you will soon realize that you are just beginning. You would also realize that life itself is a school that one does not graduate from until one breathes his or her last. As you switch on the green-light of celebration today, do not forget that you have examinations to write tomorrow – that is enough danger signal to slow you down.

This stage of your life reminds me about my High School days. When we wrote our last West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) paper, we felt we had arrived. Some of us wore our school uniforms inside out; others broke their pens in excitement. Still yet, some simply had autographs written on their white polos – All in celebration. It did not occur to us that that moment was just a new chapter in the page of life. Not enough after that, those who felt on top of the world had the world on them of them.

It is good enough that you will soon be holders of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE). However, the labour market is not as innocent as you think. When you go job-hunting and present NCE, employers would probably ask for a Bachelor’s Degree; when you struggle to become a University Graduate, they’ll demand for a Master’s Degree and when you settle for that, chances are that employers would prefer a PhD.

Due to the increasing demand for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) based skills, the future of employment would be skill acquisition rather than evidence of a certificate. What this translates to is that, based on current dynamics, the future of employment would be whether you are employable or not. So, be ambitious. Acquire skills for life. After your graduation, sell Akara, Recharge Card and do menial jobs. If you’re ashamed of your hustle, nobody will give you money when you’re broke.

I recall that while growing up, myself and my younger brother Job did petty trading to support the family. Although our Dad was a lecturer, he personally taught us how to plough ridges. Farming was his pastime and he ensured that it was the same for everyone in the family. With that informal training, we assisted people in the neighborhood on their farm lands to get some extra coins to support our education. Therefore, if your parents are farmers, ensure that you take that as your catechism classes.

Think big. Be ambitious and look ahead. What will be your next move after SYACCOE? For the Ladies, will marriage be your next achievement or would you further your education? Which kind of man would you settle with? How many children would you like to give birth to? For the Gentlemen, would your next target also be raising a family? What kind of woman would you like to go for? Are you likely to plan big and have a responsible family which will eventually contribute to the growth of society?

It was James Lovell who said, there are three kinds of people in the world – Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder why things happen. I dare you to choose the first and the last. This is because, the first kind of people are change agents. And the second type constitutes philosophers. As you leave SYACCOE, don’t lose your head and heart.

Don’t forget God and he will not forget you. In Ecclesiastes 11:9, the Word of God queries: “How can the young remain sinless?” The answer is given as “By obeying your Word, Lord – Enjoy your life when you are young but remember the judgment day.” Live your life to the full. Thank you for being the icing on the cake of this Christian community. We pray for you and wish you the very best. On behalf of the parishioners, accept our hearty congratulations!


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