A beloved College of The Bahamas (COB) staffer who passed away last year, an award winning short filmmaker and the first-ever business certificate group from Andros made up the 486 members of the 2012 Commencement Class.
Sheer elation manifested in horn-blowing, squeals of delight, incessant applause and waves of fist-pumping marked COB’s 35th Commencement Ceremony at the Diplomat Centre on Thursday.
This year, there were several notable highlights.
For instance, there was the posthumous awarding of a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Administrative Office Management to Jameca Taylor, an employee of The College’s Office of Admissions who passed away last year.
Overall, 330 graduates were awarded baccalaureate degrees, making it the extraordinarily largest group of bachelor degree earners in a COB Commencement Class.
Many of the graduates aspire to join the national and international labour force, while others are destined to further their post-secondary education. For them, the college journey has been challenging, yet rewarding.
“Dream big; be prepared and explore,” Anwar Lewis, BBA Accounting, the commencement
class speaker, challenged his fellow graduates. “The College of The Bahamas has made us all believers. It has taught us that our capabilities are much more than we could have ever imagined.”
Encouragingly enough, in many ways The College is already operating as a university, according to College President Dr. Betsy Boze. Faculty and students are involved in comprehensive research; new master and baccalaureate degree programmes are being added and existing programmes are being reviewed. Additionally, The College continues to establish new international partnerships.
“The College of The Bahamas should be the University of The Bahamas and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas deserves a university,” she said, echoing much of the same sentiment that the Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald and the Christie-led Government have expressed.
President Boze referred to highlights of the 2011-2012 academic year, including an ongoing academic programme review; the government’s conveyance of land to The College on which the Oakes Field campus is located; completed research by faculty and staff and groundbreaking symposia on national issues.
Other goals involve increasing access to tertiary education; supporting student success; financial and environmental sustainability; bolstering academic excellence and transparency.
To the graduates the College President said, “Mere weeks ago, we had a number of our graduates join the government as ministers, members of parliament and senators. You will follow suit and make your mark in myriad areas of Bahamian society…I compel you to stay connected with The College of The Bahamas, the nation’s premier tertiary education institution.”
Prolific writer, accomplished educator and former senior College administrator Patricia Glinton-Meicholas held a captive audience as she played “devil’s advocate” and delivered a thought-provoking commencement address. She said The Bahamas is at war with itself.
“There is a battle raging in the deep socioeconomic structures of the nation. Given the alarming data emerging, it seems that a rockslide of social ills is blocking our way forward. I believe the avalanche was precipitated by the vicious journey engaged in the 1970s and 1980s – that swift ride to wealth on Colombian mules with criminality as fee for passage,” she said.
She urged the commencement class to contribute to national excellence.
“A deeper and more enduring excellence demands consensus and full community participation in the work of development and peace. Without them, no laws or law enforcement agencies can quarantine the deadly viruses of violence and inequity that blight our communities. It is time to shift our focus from the acquisition of coin and power to the development of people, enhancing intellect, character, skills and civic and communal virtues,” she added to rousing applause.
In addition to the 330 graduates who earned bachelor degrees, 122 others earned associate degrees, 78 were awarded certificates and 16 received diplomas. The 2012 commencement theme is: In Pursuit of Excellence, Dream, Explore, Discover.