Commencement 2017: “Here we are!” Class Speaker, Aba Wilmot, shares stories about graduating class journey through Ashesi

June 24, 2017
The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, in all his wisdom, said:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Kindly allow me to take you back to the first step that has resulted in your being here today.

Dear family, friends and well-wishers: think about the first memories of the graduates whose invitation you have gladly honored today. It may be that first cry, that first word they spoke, how they wept when you dropped them off on their first day of school, how their behaviors caught your eyes in that dormitory in secondary school, or just how helpful they were to you on your first encounter.

Dear Staff and Faculty: Do you remember how, we, in 2013, fumbled to do the “tell me about yourself” during our interviews? Or what you thought of “those kids” and the many questions they had about Ashesi and its values during orientation?

Dear graduates: Reminisce about the feelings you harbored when you decided to accept the offer Ashesi had given you; and to the first day you walked through these gates.

HERE. WE. ARE. A thousand miles from where we started but all because of those first steps; those first moves.

The class of 2017 is one colorful thread intricately woven into the tapestry, called the Ashesi community. In our vibrancy, we have stood out! With a number of us coming from different parts of Africa and the world, it was common place for our Ghanaian classmates to quickly correct our Nigerian classmates when they pronounced “L.O.V.E” as love instead of love. In the end however, we all know those arguments were exchanges of love. We were not only diverse in nationalities, but in terms of our dreams, our motives for coming here and the mental orientations we possessed before Ashesi. Some of us came here because our friends were coming too while a few others had to follow their family tradition of enrolling at Ashesi. Even as freshmen, we had classmates who would strongly argue and defend topics that were not “defendable” while others found it hard to even say their names out loud. Some of us had dreams; dreams to graduate from Ashesi with first class degrees and land the best-paying jobs while a few others were looking to champion social change and leave footprints of their works on earth. After four years on this hill, HERE. WE. ARE; unified in our differences. HERE. WE. ARE; certain that we do not hope to be anything other than ethical and responsible members of society. HERE. WE. ARE.

We are a culmination of toils, tears and the triumph of toughness. As said by Longsfellows “the heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling up in the night”. Our journey at Ashesi has been characterized by toiling up in the night, literally. The prolonged Entrepreneurship group meetings that went on until 2 am; the lines of code that refused to compile; the presentations—from Text and Meaning up until Capstone projects, made us happily make do with lecture hall chairs as beds. We did not only become nocturnal beings; we became tougher. Sometimes our programmers thought they should be praised for making a program work, but they were usually greeted with Dr. Korsah’s “can you do better?” And when Makosah, the introduction to finance lecturer announces that “it will come but the form”, you know that all hope is lost in that upcoming Intro to Finance exam. On our journey to toughness, you could hear on replay on the music list of most class members “Awurade b3gye steer no…” while others had Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel. However, we have no doubts as we sit here today in our graduation gowns and embellished tassels, with our feet burning in our new shoes while offering silent prayers that the sun does not melt our layers of makeup before we take our photos, that the contributions of the faculty and staff, especially the small actions that we may have overlooked, have collectively transformed us.

HERE. WE. ARE; not only excited that our toil and late nights are being rewarded with a great ceremony as this; we are excited for the fact that we are graduating from Ashesi as people with a sense of purpose and responsibility. HERE. WE. ARE; even more excited for the fact that we have made great friends who will be the co-founders of our business ventures, godparents to our children and the loves of our lives for as looooong as we live. Huge shout-outs to the Amarteifios, the Britwums, the Kuffours, the Chachus and the many others that will gain grounds soon.

HERE. WE. ARE…feeling super proud that we have left eternal footprints of our stay here at Ashesi. We don’t even have to try hard to spray on the walls that “we were here some” because we would not only be dealing with the wrath of Casper the Director of Operations if we did, but more because the spirit of Ashesi will not forget us. The Staff and Faculty appreciation day initiated by the Kwabena-Michael ASC presidency has become tradition here now. Parents in Berekuso are happier that they can pay only 1 cedi as fees for their children’s kindergarten education because of the Educare initiative started by our classmates, Efua, Hudson and Susanna. We all have no doubts that Valentine’s day on this hill will not be the same without Latifah and Tobel’s Breakfast in Bed. And oh, who would bring the market to the people again, like Wilma’s Bucket Deals Store did?

HERE. WE. ARE; already missing being college students. It was easy to be adults and children at the same time. Anytime there were rights to be enjoyed, we proudly claimed to be adults, but calmly coiled into our shells when “adulting” responsibilities surfaced. We are already missing the Ashesi WiFi, and the fact that we cannot hop into our friends’ rooms at midnight for relationship advice. We all will definitely miss the cafeteria food which we so gladly loved to hate. To the anxiety we felt during those nail-biting minutes we waited for our plagiarism percentage on turnitin, our lives will not be the same without you.

To our parents: HERE. WE. ARE; the products of your hard work and sacrifices. Our names will be renowned for generations to come through the works of our hands – just because you gave it all for us.

To the staff and faculty and the entire Ashesi community: HERE. WE. ARE; with our lives changed after our encounters with you. Your mentoring and coaching have carved out an army of thinkers who believe in the power of possibilities. You gave us a safe space to identify opportunities and work towards finding solutions to them. We no longer consider ourselves inferior of achieving great feats. Not when our roommates, classmates and lecturers are doing so.

To the world: HERE. WE. ARE; ready to leave you a better place than we found you. We are ready to give you the best of what we have become. We will be doing all we can to make your big picture a little more beautiful, even if our jobs will be just washing the paint brushes. The strokes on your canvas will be a whole lot better with the class of 2017.

Dear Class of 2017; HERE WE GO!

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