“Challenge the Impossible!” Class Speaker urges classmates

June 23, 2018
How do we change the world tomorrow? When you walk into the beautiful campus of Ashesi from the main entrance, at the Founders Court, before you are greeted by the several people in our amicable community, you are greeted by a quote from Goethe Wolfgang, forever engraved in the stainless glass opening. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” So, begin it now. Today above all else, I, Bryan Achiampong, am honored and humbled to be the voice of a class filled with geniuses of sagacity, magicians of change, historians of their own legacy, and the leaders of Africa and of the World. I am honored to speak on behalf of the remarkable and outstanding class of 2018.

His Excellency the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo; Chief of Berekuso, Nana Oteng-Korankye II; Nananom; President of Ashesi, Dr Patrick Awuah, distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, Class of 2018, I am elated to welcome you all to the 2018 Ashesi Graduation Ceremony. We are thrilled to have you present, to celebrate this momentous occasion with us.

I want to tell you about my family, the Class of 2018. A family of artists showcasing the meticulous strokes of Dela Acolatse, a family of affectionate citizens with hearts as caring as Amiineh Kizita Tabbicca’s, a family of inventors with creative minds like that of Benedict Quartey, a family of sportsmen with the skilfulness of Owurako Ampofo, a family of trendsetters with the swagger of Nana Addo, and a family with many stories to share. Stories of strong women, heroines, such as Teni Agana, who dedicated several hours of her time at Ashesi to teaching math to underprivileged children in Berekuso. Stories of strong men, heroes like Derrick Omari, who founded Tech Era and is making tremendous impact in connecting the visually impaired to today’s technology, improving their lives while combatting ICT illiteracy in Ghana. Stories of leaders like Kirk Ceaser, popularly known as K4MVP, who has been one of the best captains to ever lead the Ashesi Basketball Team. We have stories of entrepreneurs, such as Patience Oppong and Bless Ayikpa who founded “the smoothie of the land” Kenkey Smoothie, Jeremy Ntow and Abigail Owusu-Amoah’s legendary AJ Sandwiches, and our very own Meat Empire that can make your girlfriend or boyfriend love you forever, with their tasty “barbecue midnight special with you” offer.

So yes, Class of 2018, we have come a long way both individually and collectively, and today we tell a celebratory story of our graduation – a tale of our aspirations, struggles, joy, and triumph. Our first chapter here was one of ambition, and it all started in our Freshman year. While the ambition of our parents and guardians was to give us the best education at Ashesi University, where we would be trained to become the next generation of ethical leaders for Africa, we had ambitions of our own; ambitions to study Business Administration, Computer Science or Management and Information Systems; ambitions to form and be a part of clubs and societies that would allow us to express our passions; ambitions to find our partners in business and our partners in life; and ambitions to establish friendships that will stand the test of time. But beyond all our ambitions, freshman year was also a time of wild unpredictability, extreme levels of confusion, delightful beginnings and discovery.

As the years progressed, we learned more about Ashesi, more about ourselves and more about our classmates. We learned that FOCUS, our grades portal, was a very sensitive topic of discussion after a quiz or test. We learned that you could attend all the study groups possible for a Managerial [Accounting] quiz, but still feel ill-prepared, because in the words of Makosah, “It will come, but the form!” We learned not to wear a white shirt when taking a Berekuso taxi up the dusty hill unless you intended to buy a brown shirt. And we learned to be nocturnal, staying up till 1am just to make our codes run. The Pre-calculus nights, the Design modeling prototypes, the break-ups and the make-ups were all a part of the pages that made our chapters in Ashesi worthwhile.

In the pages of our story here, the most significant reminders that kept us pushing forward till this day were the bookmarks in between. The bookmarks of our family and our guardians who supported us through this journey. The bookmarks of all the staff and faculty at Ashesi, from the Dean of Students who always had an attentive ear and words of advice, our personal storytellers, Ebenezer and Michael, who always captured us at our best and shared us with the world, our staff and faculty who did not limit their reach to their positions but became our educators, our friends, our helpers and our mentors.

To the Dr. Patrick Awuahs, the Araba Botchweys, the Dr Senas, the Dr Armahs, the Kobby Grahams, the Ayokor Korsahs, and to all of Ashesi, we are grateful, and to you all we say thank you.

And now to the graduates, the Class of 2018, I want to share a few stories of our accomplishments we made as a family. We hosted the best class party ever at Ashesi, a parody of the Ubora Excellence Awards titled, Uborla, and in the same year received the award for the most outstanding class in the University. As the class with the best dance instructor in the entire school, Jeremy Ntow, we performed the most electrifying final class dance at the courtyard, Akwaaba, with some very memorable moves from the likes of Michael Akpawu. And in the life of Ashesi, we have had the largest number of candidates ever vouching for student council leadership positions on campus, Jessica and Sabelo, Kingsley and Keziah, Caleb and Job, and we had a terrific year with Justice and Michael under the JustMike Administration. But above all our formidable accomplishments, our greatest achievement has been our spirit of unity. We lost a brother, Edward Mussey – a moment that devastated us all. But in our sadness, we comforted each other, shared all we could with his family, and persevered to be here today, to finish the journey we started with him. So today, as we gather here as a family, celebrating our accomplishments, we tip our caps to our brother, as we celebrate graduating with him.

As the first class to graduate in the same year Ashesi officially received its charter, it is not a question that we and this moment are nothing short of exceptional and historic. But today, we start a new journey in our lives, and I want to take this opportunity to share a message that would guide us all through the chapters to come, till the end of our pages. So here is my message to us all. A message on choices, and how to spend the coin of our lives.

Throughout the period of our lives, everything we are able to experience is as a result of our choices. There is only one part of our lives we do not decide, and I want to demonstrate that moment to you with your assistance. I want everyone under the sound of my voice to reach into their wallet or purse and take out a single coin. The coin can be of any value you want, but it can only be one. I would give you a minute to do so. Now I want each of you to gently flip that coin on the count of 3. 1,2,3.

If you got the coat of arms, kindly raise your right hand. Thank you. Now if you got the other side of the coin, can you kindly raise your left hand, thank you.

Now, what you just did, flipping a coin, is the perfect representation of the gamble of life. No one decides where or who they are born to. The coin you flipped could have been of the highest value, or the lowest value or in the middle, but you do not decide whether its outcome is the head or the tail of the coin.

However, the beauty of life is that, the gamble ends at the flip of the coin. After this point, you have the power to choose what your life would mean to you, and what your life would mean to others. We may not choose how we came into this world, but we do choose how we live in this world.  And this is my message to us all, to live our best lives. Winston Churchill said, “History would be kind to me for I intend to write it.” So today, as we make history in Ashesi, I want you to ask yourself, what are you intending to write with the next chapters of your life in the legacy of your story, in the legacy of Africa and in the legacy of the world.

In the words of the great African leader and revolutionary Nelson Mandela, “our choices should reflect our hopes and not our fears.” There is nothing too big or impossible in life, we only limit ourselves because we falsely believe in the impossible. But this thinking is wrong, and detrimental to all our futures. It is not impossible for us to have tarred roads leading to our university, it is not impossible for us to respect women and give them equal opportunities as men in our societies, it is not impossible build an Africa free of corruption, and it is certainly not impossible for us to change the single story of Africa in the world. All we need to do, is to believe we can, and to choose to make a difference.

As the guru Yogananda said, “change yourself and you would have done your part in changing the world.” For choices will define our possibilities and choices will define our limitations. So, when we chose to make a difference in all we do, whether big or whether small, we would have made our choice in changing the world.

So today, as we finish a chapter in our lives, as we graduate, and as we are celebrated, let us do what others won’t, so tomorrow we can do what others can’t. For the heroes of tomorrow, are those who chose to make a difference  today. And us being here, through the challenges, the naysayers and the tribulations shows that we are nothing less than the saviors of our continent and the saviors of our world.

But this journey we are on will not be an easy one. There will be times where we will be rejected, there will be times where we will fail, there will be times when we do not feel good enough and it appears that the whole universe is against us. But in those moments, when we choose not to fall but to stand, when we choose not to hide in the darkness, but to be a beacon of hope to all in despair, when we decide that the change we have been waiting for is the change we will bring. Our legacy will be the story of a people who in the face of adversity, hardship and hopelessness chose to make a difference in the history of Africa and in the history of world. There will be no better tomorrow if we do not choose to create it today. For none of us are born winners, and none of us are born losers, but we are all born choosers of the legacies we will leave behind.

As I conclude, I leave you with the words of a missionary, Lillian Dickson. “Life is like a coin. You can spend it on anything you wish but you can only spend it once.” So today, I want you to take that same coin, but this time don’t flip it, I want you to spend it and to spend it to the fullest. Spend your coin bringing hope to the hopeless, spend your coin creating laughter and joy in the lives of others, spend your coin fighting for the rights of those too weak to battle their oppressors, spend your coin chasing your dreams and finding out that the impossible is not what it seems. And in the legacy of your life we will know you were a history maker, who came to this earth, told a story of greatness, and chose to make a difference in the story of world. So, I ask again, how do we change the world tomorrow? By choosing to change today.

Long Live Ashesi. Long Live the Class of 2018.

Thank you!

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