Saturday, 20th June 2015 – Ashesi celebrated its 11th graduating class at a ceremony held in the Cornfield & Archer Courtyard on campus this past weekend. Some 1,500 family, friends, students and alumni joined the Class of 2015 to celebrate four years of work at Ashesi, and welcome them to the Ashesi alumni community. Kofi Ampim, Chairman of the Board of Societe General Bank Ghana Ltd., was guest speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony. Other guests of honour included the Vice President of Ghana, H.E Amissah-Arthur, the Chief of Berekuso, Nana Oteng Korankye II, the Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, representatives from the University of Mines and Technology and Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Accreditation Board, Mr. Kwame Dattey.
In usual tradition, Chief Marshal Casper Annie led a procession of faculty, dignitaries and graduating students, and welcomed the congregation. It was a relief to see that Berekuso had a clear sunny morning, even though plans had been made for relocating graduation indoors in case of rain.
In her opening address, Provost, Dr. Marcia Grant read "Letter One" from Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, highlighting the importance of self-confidence and introspection.
"What else can I tell you?" she read to the Class of 2015. "It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn't disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer."
For his address, Class Speaker Omar Khadi ’15, spoke about the darkness of the world the Class of 2015 was stepping to, and pledged that he and his colleagues were going to be a model of exemplary citizenship.
“This world into which we are graduating is more troubled and complex than any of us could have started to imagine when we first walked onto this hill four years ago,” he read. “[...] We remember the needless passing of over 200 Ghanaians in the explosion at the Goil filling station in Accra earlier this month, as well as the unnamed many who drowned in the flooding that preceded the explosion,” he read. “We must never forget, we must not let our media forget, and we must not let our leaders move on from this tragedy without making sure it never happens again. Our leaders emerge from amongst us, and if we want things to change then our society too must change. We must move from apathy, towards empathy; we must learn to care. [...] Class of 2015, this is what we have been trained for. Let’s show the world how it’s done.”
The Class of 2015 represents a new generation of Ashesi alumni, as it becomes the first class in Ashesi’s history to have spent its entire four-year academic period on our new campus in Berekuso. It marks a new phase for Ashesi, even as we wait for approval to start our new Engineering Programme in September of 2015.
In his address Ashesi President, Dr. Patrick Awuah, encouraged the class to see the problems around them as a break down of Social Capital in Africa.
“Social Capital, the value that societies gain through collaboration and collective action, is fundamental to the development of modern societies,” he explained. “Without it, we cannot build and support good schools, hospitals or infrastructure. Without it, we cannot build the great teams necessary to run amazing corporations or effective government. Without it, society becomes a mere collection of individual agents concerned only with their personal interests. Without it, things literally fall apart.”
“These past few years, you have lived and studied at one of the cleanest and most environmentally sensitive university campuses in Africa. The environment that you experienced here is the result of the actions of a community that is working together for the sake of the common good. [...] Class of 2015, I feel very confident that you will take the lessons you learned at Ashesi wherever you go, that you will be force for good in the world, and that you will be the glue that binds our society together. I feel very confident that you will help rebuild Africa’s Social Capital.”
In an especially fiery address to the graduating students, Guest Speaker and seasoned investment banker Mr. Kofi Ampim, also told the Class of 2015 to embrace risk, appreciate the storms of life and realise that it was citizens, not the government, that ultimately determined a country’s growth.
“I dare to say that the main problem facing Ghana is our own retrogressive mentality,” he said. “The recent floods in Accra, which caused a huge tragedy is a case in point. People building in waterways against conventional wisdom are unacceptable and must be checked to prevent future occurrence of such disasters. The “pull him down” syndrome, lackadaisical work ethic, jealousy, superstition, some negative cultural norms, lack of discipline, laziness, can’t-do spirit, bribery and corruption. The leadership of the country can formulate the best economic policies under the sun, but if the policies are not adhered to by the people who are supposed to let it work as part of the equation, it becomes a fiasco.”
“The biggest economic challenge in Ghana today is massive unemployment,” he continued. “Everybody is looking to the government or the few private enterprises for gainful employment. As fresh school leavers you must be bold, creative, and entrepreneurial in your thinking. Go and create your own job. Get into the agriculture-food business and the other service industry on your own, as I have already outlined to you. The secret of life is to have no fear. Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. Don’t wait for some extraordinary opportunity to occur. Seize common occasions and make them great.”
As part of the ceremony, three members of the Class of 2015 received the President’s “Scholarship, Leadership and Citizenship” Award – Sela Kwaku Agbakpe ’15, Kpetermeni Siakor ’15 and Richard Odame ‘15 – for their exemplary commitment to representing Ashesi’s ideals. The awards are the highest that could be given to a student at Ashesi.
The Class of 2015 also presented a gift of GHs1,250 to Ashesi, its second gift in this year alone, after first making a donation towards helping start the university’s new Engineering programme.
Presenting the gift on behalf of the Class, Gift Coordinator, Portia Honu ’15 said, “for all the things that Ashesi has taught us, all the lessons we have learnt and all the dedication towards our success, this is a token to say thank you.”
Congratulations, Class of 2015. Welcome to the Ashesi alumni community!