The keynote speaker at the University of Liberia (UL) 102nd Commencement Convocation Mrs. Saundra Berry Hall has challenged the graduating class to aspire to higher education and greater opportunities to accomplish more.
The 102nd Graduating Class of the University of Liberia is named “Naa Neeni Ma,” which is translated in English as “The class of FRUITFULNESS.”
Madam Hall, who is the president of the University of Liberia Alumni Association in the Americas, told the graduates that they have just begun to scratch the surface.
“I challenge you to aspire to higher education and greater opportunities to accomplish more,” said Madam Hall, during the opening of the college-based graduation on UL Fendall Campus on Monday, March 14, 2022.
She reminded the graduates that the University of Liberia needs them, adding, “You are the future movers and shakers of Liberia.”
On the first day of the commencement, 502 candidates graduated from the Liberia College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the William V. S. Tubman College of Education, and the David A. Straz-Sinje Technical and Vocational College based in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County.
In her address to the three colleges, Madam Hall said the pathway to success for these colleges as they perform their respective responsibilities of training and imparting students to make contributions to their country must be anchored on some major pillars.
She listed the pillars as qualified instructional staff; relevant and dynamic curricula and textbooks and other instructional materials; learning resource centers; state of the art technology and exposure of students to research and experiential learning.
As president of the University of Liberia Alumni Association in the Americas (ULIBAAA), Madam Hall said she had been asked by the association to explore ways that ULIBAAA can partner with the University of Liberia and provide some needed assistance.
“I want to assure you that University of Liberia Alumni Association in the Americas, of which I am the President, stands ready to partner with you and our University family, to help in any way possible, incorporating your skills, knowledge, expertise and resources, for us to move the University forward,” Madam Hall said.
Matthew Gonmah, valedictorian of the three colleges, expressed gratitude to the University of Liberia and the Visitor of the University and President George Manneh Weah for the significant impacts made in the lives of the students by introducing the tuition-free policy at UL.
He however pleaded with President Weah to provide more resources to the University of Liberia so that in return, the university will be able to adequately empower the Department of Social Work to address the problem and nightmare of Liberia, referencing the disadvantaged youth or zogoes.
He noted that such support to the university will also benefit other colleges and departments and provide support for a world-class digital library that will help place the institution in the 21st-century academic era.
Talking a bit more about Social Workers, Mr. Gonmah said most people think of them when they think of poverty alleviation and child welfare or giving food.
But he noted that Social Workers perform different tasks and more, adding, “Today, the Department of Social Work has trained students, through their internship program within the department working with GOL [Government of Liberia] ministries” which include Defense Ministry, hospitals, clinics and NGOs.
He added that the Ministry of Gender has introduced cases centered on domestic violence, substance use and abuse, rape, isolation, and inequality, among others.
“Social Workers are advocates in ensuring that individuals maintain independence, accessibility to public transportation, bathrooms, education and more,” he said.
Gonmah noted that issues of health problems that intersect with social problems, should be addressed by professional Social Workers and educators such as illiteracy, homelessness, and poverty.
Rev. Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., President of the University of Liberia, said as the University of Liberia plays its role in the investment of human resources, it assures the entire country that it is confident and proud of its products today.
“Liberia is faced with numerous challenges as we continue to pick up the pieces, transform our nation into what [it] should be, and play our role amongst the comity of nations,” said President Nelson.
He added that “we are all aware, that the only way this can be done effectively, is when we invest in, and develop our human resources, as we tackle the daunting task on our hands.”
President Nelson thanked the parents and family members who served as support and pillars to the outstanding graduates, as they came from day to day, bettering themselves for the future of mama Liberia, and the world at large.
“Be assured that your input and investments are highly appreciated, and will certainly pay off,” President Nelson said.
He also appreciated the entire University of Liberia (Lux in Tenebris) family, for brightening the light, and leading the institution to where it is today.
Addressing the graduates, President Nelson said he knows the road has been rough, and the journey has been tough, but through the special Grace and Mercy of the Almighty, the graduates have made it through.
“To our 157 graduates from the College of Education, our 252 graduates from the Liberia College, and our 93 graduates from the Straz-Sinje Technical and Vocational College, we want you to know that we are deeply proud of you,” said Dr. Nelson.
He said all 502 of them have been through the fire, broken into pieces, been tested and tried, and they have turned out as pure gold.
“Gold that will shine in the darkness of corruption; gold that will shine in the darkness of systemic challenges; gold that will shine in the darkness of inequality and equal opportunity. You are our gold today, and we are proud to send you out there as degree holders in your respective areas of discipline, with the recognition and respect attached thereto, as you represent the Lux in Tenebris in the larger society. GO OUT AND SHINE,” he urged.
The commencement exercise will continue on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Fendall, with the conferral of degrees on candidates from the Thomas J. Faulkner College of Science and Technology, the William R. Tolbert College of Agriculture and Forestry and the College of Engineering.
The UL will over the next one week confer degrees on more than 2,000 candidates from undergraduate, graduate and professional schools.