SPEECH BY THE CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, DR. KEVIT DESAI, DURING THE 42ND COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY OF THE UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY-AFRICA HELD ON SEPTEMBER 26, 2020.

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The Chief Guest, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera,

The Board of Trustees

The Chancellor, Dr. Manu Chandaria

The University Council

The University Senate

Management Board

Faculty, students, staff and alumni present

Parents and guardians,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

And the Graduating Class of 2020

Good Morning,

It is a pleasure to be here today to celebrate with all of you on the occasion of USIU-Africa’s 42nd Commencement ceremony, and like all the other speakers before me have noted, the first in our 51-year history to be done virtually. Allow me to begin by offering my heartfelt congratulations to each and every one of you graduating here today, for the tenacity that you have demonstrated during this difficult time in global history to finish your education, and triumph over these extraordinary circumstances.

Ladies and gentlemen,

USIU-Africa is built on the premise of being a premier institution of academic excellence with a global perspective, and over the years, has achieved this through the promotion of the discovery and application of knowledge and skills in a way that prepares its students to contribute effectively and ethically as citizens of a changing and increasingly technological world. Put simply, USIU-Africa gives each of the students that comes through its doors a chance to change themselves and the world they live in by helping them see a bigger, brighter vision of the future.

As you graduate today, you will be going out to make your marks in the world. It is always our hope as an institution that when our students eventually go out into the world, they will be able to do things that were previously thought as impossible, because the education and skills that they got here at USIU-Africa allowed them to look at their value and the quality of their work in new, exciting ways.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At USIU-Africa, we believe that there is room for everyone, and this is evident in the number of nationalities and cultures represented in our campus community. This notion of belonging is why we have initiatives such as the Annual Month of Giving and Educate Your Own, fundraising initiatives spearheaded by students to ensure that their fellow students stay the course and successfully complete their studies at USIU-Africa. Because of this notion, we have been able to attract like-minded partners, like the Mastercard Foundation, who through the Scholars Program, will help us continue down the path of transforming lives and communities through access to world class education.

As you leave us here today and go out in the world to start your lives, I want to urge you to remain curious and always seek opportunities to keep learning. Be open to listening and being challenged, because things have the ability to change when you listen, take into account what you hear and find ways to make things better.

Be adaptable. We are living in a new normal, which none of us saw coming, and in which things evolve every day to take into account these extraordinary times. USIU-Africa has always embraced innovation and adaptability as some of its key operational tenets, and nowhere has this been more evident than in the seamless transition from face to face to online learning following the shutdown of learning institutions across the world in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. We live in a rapidly evolving world, and coupled with the acceleration in the capabilities of digital technology, and an increasing growth in nationalist sentiments across the world, there will be more disruption and transformation in the near future. I believe that each of you, by virtue of being USIU-Africa alumni will be well positioned to embrace these transformations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With these few words, allow me to again offer my sincerest congratulations to each and every one of you.

I want to take this opportunity to introduce our chief guest today, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, a man who knows a few things about making history, just like you all are here today at USIU-Africa’s first virtual graduation.

Thank you and God bless you.

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