The Catholic-run Stella Maris Polytechnic, which operates on the motto, “Wisdom, Knowledge and Skills for Service,” held its 16th Commencement Convocation at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium on UN Drive in Monrovia over the weekend. The administration referred to the occasion as the “Special Commencement Convocation for 2014/2015.”
Of the 328 graduates: 14 (8 females and 6 males) obtained Master of Science Degrees in Nursing from the Mother Patern College of Health Sciences; 31 (20 females and 11 males) obtained Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Health Sciences and as Physician Assistants.
Overall, 168 of the graduates were females, while males constituted 160.
The president of Stella Maris, Sister Mary Laurene Browne, administered the oath of office to the graduates, while the respective Deans of the five colleges presented the degree receiving graduates.
The Stella Maris Polytechnic (SMP) is owned and operated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia with the aim of developing the operational skills of, as well as availing scholarships to, deserving students.
The SMP currently comprises five colleges, namely the Arthur Barclay Business College (named in honor of former president of Liberia, Arthur Barclay); Bishop John Collins Teachers College (named in honor of the first Bishop of Liberia, Most Rev. Bishop John Collins);
Mother Patern College of Health Sciences (named in honor of Mother Mary Patern, the first supervisor of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Liberia); Monsignor Stephen Kyne Technical College (named after a Society of African Mission (SMA) Priests, the first Prefect Apostolic of Liberia); and the Monsignor John Oge Agriculture College (named in honor of Msgr. John Oge, the second Prefect Apostolic of Liberia).
Earlier in his remarks, SMP Chancellor, Catholic Archbishop Lewis Jerome Ziegler, informed the graduates of the many difficulties in life after graduation, but urged them to remain grateful that they had successfully completed their academic tenure at SMP. The Chancellor cautioned the graduates not to sit supinely and let others mislead them. He also challenged the graduates to allow their academic qualifications to take lead in whatever endeavors they embark on in life.
“Do not wait for others to lead you, but take the lead to do what is necessary for the growth and development of the country,” Archbishop Ziegler admonished the graduates to a round of applause.
This suggests that gaining an education, though valuable as a means towards self-advancement, has a greater purpose: the advancement of the common good, which includes caring for the poor and the less fortunate.
This is a special responsibility which fits well with the theme of this graduation exercise, “Opportunities Beyond Crisis”, which is about hope that the future can be better, despite the difficulties of today. The exercise of this responsibility will require that you graduates cannot be reluctant patriots, but must take on the role of ardent nationalists.
The Liberian nation is counting on people like you. Hope is hanging in the balance—hope for a better future for Liberia, our Country,” declared the Archbishop.
Keynote speaker Central Bank Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones reminded the students that “We are approaching the end of the fifteenth year of the twenty first century. Time is marching on. And if we are still dressing up the old ways and continuing to dilly-dally, continue to be fast to act on the inconsequential but slow to move on the substantial and the existential, we will again be on the road to showing ourselves to be a people incapable of turning this God-blessed land into a land of prosperity, better opportunity, stability and justice.”
“But I am hopeful that Liberia, our country, can do better; that with renewed commitment on the part of the people, with dedicated leadership Liberia will not just do better, but will become an ascendant nation. I believe that Liberia is still a land of possibilities,” he said.
He urged the students to show both serenity and courage, “serenity to fully understand the complexity of the task of transforming our country, and courage to do what must be done to address that complexity. This is the moment, a moment for effective leadership and a committed citizenry.”
“The choice we make for the future of Liberia is not about belonging to a political party, or winning elections. Rather, it is about regaining Liberia’s cause, about restoring hope for a more prosperous, more just and a more inclusive society. When I say that poverty is not our destiny, I believe it.
“You graduates should leave here today believing it also. All Liberians should believe it. We Liberians should also believe that God Almighty did not bring us together here on this West coast of Africa, provide manna from heaven in the form of natural resources, fertile land, the ocean that runs from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas, rivers and lakes, only for our country to be the poster child of a failed state, the poster child for a nation wedded to poverty. This is not Liberia’s destiny, my people. We are a blessed people. We are a people with potential. Let us wake up and claim our blessing, and through the power of the Almighty we will succeed. This is my prayer for Liberia, our nation, our home.”