Graduation Message – SemB-2020 Dr Hendrik Botha & Dr Rob Stegmann
Dear Graduates, families, sponsors and significant others:
The world has never been as uncertain as it is now. Over the last seven months, South Africans have had to navigate the various levels of lockdown and with it, the fears and anxieties of the unknown. This period in our collective history has revealed remarkable resilience and adaptability, but it has also laid bare the fractures and fissures of our past that continue to challenge our country. Now in level one, as the economy begins to open more, as we figure out how to remain vigilant in the face of the ongoing risk of COVID-19, there is greater urgency to reimagine the world.
In the wake of considerable loss—of lives and livelihoods—we step forward and take hold of the fragments and begin to rebuild. We dust ourselves off, and we dare to get back into the arena, more aware of our vulnerabilities, more attuned to the frailty of the human condition, and more conscious of the needs of others. Hope springs, not as an act of wishful thinking, but as an act of audacious imagination.
The courage to reimagine our lives in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world sets the stage for the graduating class of 2020! While we are still unable to gather together to mark this moment in the lives of you, our graduands, we nevertheless signal with this virtual ceremony that we will overcome the odds stacked against us. And, so on behalf of the Directors and the Academic Board, I undertake the sacred charge to graduate you, our valued graduands, in absentia.
In place of a physical graduation ceremony, with this letter, as the Academic Head, I formally graduate you with all the honours, rights and privileges accompanied herewith. I do hereby release your Degree, Diploma or Higher Certificate qualifications and transcripts.
It is a great joy for us to recognise the achievements of 955 unique individuals whose lives have been changed throughout your studies. Included in this number, we note with much excitement the graduation of the first cohort of the Postgraduate Diploma in Management.
While it is important to celebrate the achievements of our graduates, we do want to acknowledge the crucial and supportive role played by the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and guardians. Their perseverance and commitment to stand by you has made the obtainment of your awards possible.
By choosing Boston City Campus, we are reminded of the fact that you, now our graduates, have entrusted your vocational futures into our hands. We are grateful and honoured by your choice. It is a choice that carries gravitas, motivating us to ensure we do everything in our power to give you the best foundation for your careers. We take to heart the importance of this decision and know, too, that your experience echoes out into the world. From the positive feedback we’ve received on our international accreditation to the service delivery and provision of all course material and textbooks at the start of every semester, all confirming that we really do embody a student-centred approach to higher education.
On this occasion, during this extraordinary moment in our history, I want to consider what words of inspiration, what message of encouragement, I might offer the graduating class of 2020.
Having watched David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet recently, I was struck by two things: First, we are complex creatures inhabiting a fragile ecosystem. Second, we are both the problem and the solution to the challenges we face.
As humans, we are both blessed and cursed. We are both free and bound. We are both hopeful and hopeless. We are forward-moving and backwards-looking. This moment in our collective history has us straddling how it is possible to be blessed with health, family and a sense of vocation, but also fearful, unsure, and anxious about the future. And, while we often think of our fears, anxieties and uncertainties as things to be avoided, I am reminded that fear confronted leads to courage; that uncertainty wrestled nurtures robust faith; and, that anxiety faced invites us to let go of what we cannot control.
Even as we begin to rebuild, it feels like the very fabric of our existence is fraying around us. But it is also revealing new opportunities to reimagine the world, the economy, and education. It is beckoning us to lay hold of a priceless treasure. We can allow fear, anxiety and uncertainty to overwhelm and paralyse. Or, we can recognise that what stands in the way of that priceless treasure is ourselves.
There is no way to predict the future or anticipate what challenges lie ahead in a post-COVID world. We can, however, choose to participate and audaciously engage in creating the future. Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” As difficult as that may prove to be, and it will continue to be difficult, I want to remind you that you have each overcome immense obstacles to complete your qualification under extraordinary circumstances. You have triumphed over the naysayers, the inner voice telling you you’re not worth it, the negative external voices.
In life, there is no final exam paper or summative assessment. Life is one formative assessment after another. As you complete one and move on, you encounter a new opportunity in your journey, and then another, and another after that. It might be preparing for a job interview which assesses your fitness for an organisation, or the submission of a business plan to secure funding for a start-up. There is no pass or fail in life. There is only the opportunity for ongoing formation. With each embraced ending, a new beginning is permitted, one formational moment after the other that will require maximum flexibility and adaptability.
In this respect, we at Boston do consider ourselves somewhat at the forefront of technologically mediated teaching and learning which has now come of age and more so than what could have been predicted. Your honed skills and experiences with independent learning; participating in digital teaching moments; interacting with educators at a distance via email, telephone or Skype; navigating online learning management systems, regularly using databases to access research, and completing assessments and projects using modern software suites and apps will also come to stand you in good stead.
Within each challenge lies the opportunity for growth and the potential for ‘new doors’ to open for both personal and professional advancement.
So, build step by step on your success, conquer your fears, and overcome what is holding you back from entering the next stage. This VUCA world will need your audacious imagination to cast a vision of a different world; a world in which we honestly assess both how we can be the problem and the solution; a world in which the delicate balance is restored for the flourishing of all life.
Without further ado
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika
Dr Hendrik Botha
Head of Institution
Please view full Graduation in Absentia SemB 2020 video message here https://youtu.be/pmhmVsdLPms
Graduation in Absentia Booklet – download here.