From Dr. Tom Steel – Head of School
Off you go…
On the occasion of a graduation ceremony, it is customary to have a stirring motivational speech given by a celebrity, or even better, a graduate who has become a success in life. This year graduates, you have me. Seriously though, I do have a brief something I’d like to say to you today, and for you, it is more of a reminder, you are an exceptional group.
Grads let’s face it, you are at a time in life when you’re generally pretty focused on yourself – yes, we’ve noticed! You should continue to think about who you are, and who you want to become. What I mean here is not what university degrees will you actually graduate with, which profession you should pursue or whether you will have children – please not for many years!
What I want to say is best represented in a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” The things that happen in life are not what makes us, our response to events is what creates and defines us as human. You build your own character brick by brick by making the hard decisions in life. You learn what will motivate you to action, how you will respond to injustice and intolerance; discover what will make you feel successful, and what will make you truly happy.
The decisions about where you will be in 5 years, what kind of job you will have and so on are things that you can decide using your head – today we have seen clearly that you can use your heads. But the important things are decided by your heart and are more challenging. To truly make a difference with your life you need to be able to engage the unbounded power of compassion through generous thought and action. The difference that you make in the lives of those around you and those you reach out to will reward you with immortality.
Confucius himself said “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
So, graduates make good choices, take good risks, accept your mistakes and learn from them, be kind and lead with your heart.