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Degree not a ticket to better life

FORMER central bank governor Ewart Williams told University of the West Indies (UWI) graduates that their degree did not guarantee them a better life. He also told them not to be overly worried about the job market in TT and remain committed to their communities at this point in the country’s history.

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Williams offered this advice after receiving his Doctor of Laws degree at UWI‘s graduation ceremonies at the St Augustine campus yesterday.

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“Your degree is not a ticket to an all-inclusive (fete). It will not guarantee you a successful career. It simply gets you through the door,” he said. Williams advised graduates that once they are employed, they will “need to work even harder to prove your worth and earn respect in the workplace.” He opined that for some students, the joy of graduation day may be “tinged with some apprehension of what lies ahead.”

Williams said graduates would be asking themselves natural questions on a day like this: “Is the labour market waiting to welcome me? How long will I need to wait for meaningful employment? Will I ever get my dream job?”

Williams urged graduates not to become too stressed but remain patient and “keep looking out for your opportunities.”

He said graduates might find themselves doing jobs they were overqualified for or not in their area of expertise in the initial stages. But, he reiterated, they continue looking out for their opportunities because “it almost always comes.”

Williams told graduates to remember their obligation to their communities.

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“At this particular moment in time, our society is undergoing tremendous social dislocation and it could well get worse. Our society needs you more than ever,” he said.

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Observing that UWI has incorporated elements of community service in some of its degree programmes, Williams said students must not think of that as simply university requirements

The need for community service to help the less fortunate and the under-served is real. As a graduate of UWI, you carry more influence than you want to believe.”

Williams said his mother, who died 25 years ago, would have “relished this moment.” He recalled she often boasted to her friends that he would be the next Dr Eric Williams. The audience laughed when Williams said, “Sorry mom. I didn’t quite get there. I hope this is not too bad a second best.”

He remembered his disappointment of not being able to go to St Mary’s College. Williams said his mother consoled him her stoic and irreverent way. The audience laughed again, when he told them her words of consolation. “Don’t worry son where horse reach, jacka– go reach.”

UWI Chancellor Robert Bermudez urged graduates to be advocates for climate change. Bermudez said recent natural disasters in the Caribbean showed that “collective action is critical” on this issue

Valedictorian Naomi Rebekah La Croix urged graduates to think outside of the box. La Croix said they should do so about crime, mental health, sociology and computing.