President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has challenged graduates of the David A. Straz Technical and Vocational College to exhibit good moral behavior as they move into the job market, adding: “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude,” an Executive Mansion release said.
The President also lauded the administration of the University of Liberia (UL) for its continued dedication to ensuring that higher education across the country is prioritized.
She commended UL president Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, lecturers, professors, the faculty senate, Ambassador David A. Straz, students and authorities of the college as well as parents for their individual and collective roles played in making the institution viable for learning.
President Sirleaf was delivering the graduation address of the first commencement program of the college on Monday in Sinje, Garwular District, Grand Cape Mount County.
She expressed delight over the level of improvement at the university and commended traditional leaders for providing the land on which the college is built.
President Sirleaf recounted how difficult things were prior to the appointment of Dr. Dennis in 2009, noting: “At that time, the university had only 15 Master’s degrees, a couple of PhDs – in addition to other limitations of the institution.”
Sirleaf said with the humanitarian intervention of Ambassador Straz since the reopening of the college in 2012, it now offers Associate degrees in Liberal Arts and with the commitment of Dean John Sulle, as well as support of the faculty senate, students and parents alike, they have been working together closely to improve learning activities as is the case on the main campus of the UL.
President Sirleaf used the occasion to commend the people of Sinje Town for the level of support given their children and for increasing the initial 500 acres of land offered for use by college to 1,000.
In his remarks, Dr. Dennis recalled how long it took before he accepted his appointment as UL president.
He recounted his visit to Liberia in 2007 to participate in the commencement convocation of Cuttington University in Suakoko, Bong County. According to him, while en-route to the ceremony, he realized that lots of children were roaming about the countryside, and not in schools, something he described as “discouraging.”
Dr. Dennis said upon his return to the country in 2009 to take up the assignment, he was shocked to see so many children, particularly so many girls, most times in their uniforms, going to schools across the country. He credited their enrollment to the concern of President Sirleaf to see young people of this country, especially girls, become educated.
He referred to the 36 graduates from the college as an ‘Historic Graduating Class,” and praised the graduates for doing well in their educational pursuits.
Dr. Dennis commended the Dean of the College, Dr. John Sellue, and staff for their endurance and also for bringing light in the area through the renovation of the facility, something which he said will certainly enlighten the nearby communities.
Earlier, Ambassador David A. Straz, the philanthropist who delivered the commencement convocation, said the institution was no longer about whatever ‘helping hand’ he gave in the renovation process; that it was no longer about him, but rather Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties that host the college.
Ambassador Straz paid tribute to the graduates for their achievements, saying: “Your education should open doors for you and create jobs for others around you.”
Both President Sirleaf and Ambassador Straz were gowned by the UL administration for what the institution referred to as her farsightedness in establishing the college, her quest to decentralize higher institutions of learning with the support of Ambassador Straz’s humanitarian outreach.
The Sinje Technical and Vocational College was established by the Government of Liberia with initial assistance from the Straz Foundation, USA. 1,000 acres of land from five communities were secured in Sinjie, Laagor, Gonh, Manivalor and Konoma in Garwular District for the institution. So far, about 35 acres of the land have been utilized for infrastructure and agricultural projects.
The college was established to cater to the diverse educational needs of the rural counties of the Western Region of Liberia. It was dedicated on July 23, 2012 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and academic activities began in October that same year.