By Liza Imbonabake
Hidden by the thick walls of unconsciousness, goosebumps from fear of expectations, I couldn’t start to comprehend the immense journey that lay ahead in Kepler Campus.
Greetings to the CEO of IKEA Foundation, CEO of Imagine We, Representatives from the government of Rwanda, fellow graduates, and all protocols observed, good afternoon. I am Liza Imbonabake from the graduating class.
I think I would be speaking for the whole cohort if I said that in some way, it felt like a spell never to be broken by the powers of mystery by signing up for quite a high-risk none of us were ready for. I, for one, was trying to understand how I was going to shift from a high school graduate to a competency-based learner, not that I realized what that implied or how it would affect the next three years of my education.
As we waited for our group housing assignments, the mixture of fear of not knowing what to expect and excitement of a new beginning assured me that this was going to potentially be the most challenging part of my life so far.
Years ago, each one of us made the firm decision to pursue a degree course at our beloved Kepler. I bet in the middle of it many of us wanted to give up. We wanted to pack our books and bags and go home. Some have done that. Honestly, that would have been an easier choice, but we stuck through it all, thick and thin. So for what lies ahead, I challenge you, and I encourage you to do the same.
And yes it sure was challenging. Starting with a competitive spirit, difficult assignments, trying not to procrastinate, it never stopped us from doing so. Typing 50wpm, and not to mention the intense pressure of joining the summer bridge program with the stress of CSM. In the midst of the rigorous work of adapting to the new life, Kepler administration was there to help us connect with our fellow students through the advisories in the summer bridge program and group house placements. It is with these connections that we got to open up about how each of us were tackling the new college life.
I don’t want to underestimate the hassles of missing deadlines, internet failures on canvas, understanding the projects on College of America (CfA), feedback from reviewers and writing research papers on complex topics. However our student programs like academic coaching, office hours, CfA check-ins, counseling sessions to mention a few made it possible for us to overcome various challenges.
Though these struggles took the best of us to endure, they also paid off in the process: that is to say victories from competitions such as Miss Geek, accelerator, capital market, These numbers have faces, female debate championship, to mention but a few.
Although I am mainly addressing the graduates today, my speech would be an understatement without acknowledging the hard work and the battles fought by each of us to earn our place to sit here today. Therefore before I go any further, I would ask the audience to please give a big round of applause to all the graduates.
I am sure our roads ahead are too parallel to assume that all of us will cross paths again. But I am confident that many parts of our experience will stay in our hearts and bring smiles to our faces as we remember them. Small bits of the kitenge parties, back to school dance, fun Friday; electives like cooking, soap making, handcraft making; interesting modules like business dinner etiquettes, projects that we all enjoyed working on like” Use Math”, “Water Water”, “you may already be a winner”, commonly words we enjoyed using like “ago and ame”, “half-mast”, “not yets”, “ academic integrity”, and so on.
Just like me, some of us finished high school with high dreams of pursuing college overseas especially in the States, and we assume that it is the best way to attain our university studies. Although it is sometimes right, everyone has a dream college that they believe would be best for them even if they are not sure whether they can afford it. All of us here today got to have a wonderful SNHU learning experience with a financial model we could afford. We all enjoyed the advantages of studying in Rwanda since it allowed us to make professional connections in various institutions and also having the chance to see the country as it advanced hence giving us ideas on how to be part of that development. This is an opportunity we would all have missed out otherwise.
The best thing about the education system here at Kepler is that they let you choose your own speed; you are not judged by the scores in your grade-sheet but rather by the skills you master. The various case scenarios, group work, research projects, assignments, each of them were helping us develop skills. Various programs such as career fairs, workshops, work studies, trainings, additionally helped us to implement our knowledge practically. The practical approach in the education system of Kepler is what makes management a world-class choice for students like me. Thank you, Kepler, for improving every day and helping us align with the current market condition through your developed policies. I would like to appreciate all the efforts of the Student Government Association, course facilitators, teaching assistants, career team that helped us, students, to excel in academics and feel at home.
Our biggest appreciation goes to Southern New Hampshire University for giving us this honor to be part of a transformative journey on Kepler campus and our parents who guided us behind the scenes. I am honored to have been a part of the SNHU class of 2018 because each of you contributed to what we had as a class, and I would not second guess to be part of any class other than this exact one.
As I conclude, my advice to my fellow graduates not forgetting myself is an extraction from Dr. Seuss’s poem, Congratulations once again graduates! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You are off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You are on your own. And you know what you know. You are the person who’ll decide where to go.
So as we go on to an even more intense journey of self-discovery and competition, I hope we remember that the fact you graduated from a program like Kepler itself is enough evidence that we are high above mediocrity and definitely way beyond average.
Thank you and Good Luck !!!