Thoughts upon Convocation

This morning, I attended my convocation ceremony as a graduate representative, marking the end of my ‘double’ life as an educator by day and a student by night. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some thoughts with fellow graduates and guests, and thought to share my speech here in hope that it would encourage folks out there who are juggling full-time work and part-time studies to press on and eventually finish well.

Many have survived, and so will you. All the best!


Good Morning

Guest of Honour, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Senior Minister of State for Defence

Professor Aline Wong, Chancellor of SIM University

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of SIM University

Distinguished guests, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen

I am Cindy, a graduate from the Bachelor of Arts (Translation and Interpretation) programme, representing the graduating cohort here today to share some thoughts.

Thank you UniSIM for this privilege and opportunity.

Today marks the completion of a journey that began for me in Jan 2013 when I formally enrolled in the only bachelor’s programme in Singapore offering a translation and interpretation major. For me, this 3-year journey felt like an eternity. There were so many times when I was not sure if I would make it to the end, and way too often, I felt like giving up, especially when work got really busy. Seriously, trying to juggle full-time work and part-time studies often felt like mission impossible, as if my life was hanging by a thread.

Till this day, I am still not quite sure how I survived the ordeal, which I often refer to jokingly as my personal ‘dark ages’. And I am sure most graduates here today who have your own ‘horror’ stories to share, can identify with this. So, I am not going to talk in depth about that. Instead, I would like to invite you to go back with me to a time before we started at UniSIM, to ask the question, why did we embark on this journey?

Why did we decide to enrol in UniSIM? Was it because we were masochistic? Or was it because we had nothing better to do? Do we still remember what prompted our decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree here at UniSIM, part time or otherwise? I’d like to suggest that we all did so for the same reasons and with the same motivations. Don’t believe my fortune telling abilities? Still, please hear me out.

Allow me to be bold and suggest that we are here because of love and hope.

Beginning with myself, I am here because I love studying, love learning new things and I actually do enjoy going to classes. Okay, that sounds a tad masochistic. For the rest, some are here out of love for themselves, to create a better self. For others, you could be here because you love your family, and hope that with this UniSIM qualification, you can create a better life for them. At the end of the day, it was love that kept us going and strengthening us to keep sacrificing time, energy, effort and money (to pay fees!) to finish this degree that we now hold dearly in our hands.

However, love alone would not have taken us so far. We need hope. We hoped for good grades in school, we hoped for the promotion and pay increments at work, we hoped that the person of our dreams would spend their lives with us… The list goes on. It is always hope that enables us to take risks for ourselves and for people we love, because sublimely we believe that things would get better when we do something about them.

If we didn’t believe that our future could be different in a better way, if we didn’t believe we could do something to bring about a better future, we would not have acted.

Hope also comes from people around us, our families who inspired us with their lives and support for our dreams, our teachers who have taught us valuable skills and knowledge, and dared us to dream the impossible dream. It is fitting thus that I take the opportunity here to remember and thank the late Mr Shaun Yeo, who taught me the fundamentals of Chinese-English translation while I was at SIM University. He not only modelled us for what it meant to be a professional translator, he was also a teacher who taught from his heart, who consistently lived out good character and ethics. Our class was much saddened by his passing and we continue to miss him as we aspire toward his achievements.

With this brief illustration, I hope that you do agree with me somewhat that it was love and hope that started us on this exciting journey with UniSIM and with one another.

Adding to that, to be a finisher of what we have started also testifies to our tenacity and resourcefulness. Think back to those times when we worked late into the night to complete our term assignments. Those moments made us truly understand what ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ really mean.

Love, hope, tenacity, resourcefulness… I’d like to think that we are exiting UniSIM not only with a degree scroll, an academic qualification, but also with a better us for having gone through all that we have gone through. And as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us only serves to make us stronger, which means that we are in pretty good shape to be positive about our future even when the world awaiting us is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. We have no reason to be afraid, to not to try or to give up. Not after this.

As I end, I would like to invite all the graduands here to rise and to face your families and loved ones who have supported you throughout your studies and to give them a round of applause.

Thank you. Please be seated.

Today, we have the pleasure of having our very own SIM University students, Clement Phua  and Fatin Nadiah Nastasha Binte Kamsan from the School of Arts and Social Sciences to sing us a rendition of the University song, “Onwards and Beyond”. Please put your hands together for Clement and Nastasha!

Thank you.


Postscript: In all honesty, I wasn’t planning to attend the convocation ceremony but I am glad I did. In many ways, it marked the end of a season and the beginning of a new journey. Thank you to all of you who have been with me all these while. ❤

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