Thank you very much, Mrs. Ferdinand and Good Afternoon to you, the Young Ladies of Wesley High School. I repeat…Good Afternoon to you, the Young Ladies of Wesley High.
I know that that greeting may sound strange to many of you, as it is customary for you to be referred to as Girls or children. But I want each of you, as of this afternoon, to begin seeing and relating to yourself, and to each other, as Young Ladies.
There is something peculiar about the English Language, where the use of certain words, creates specific images in our minds.
I know it is common for you, at age 11, when you enter secondary school, to be referred to as girls. And, by the time you leave at ages 16 to 18, you are young women. There is nothing wrong with that, other than it is age alone that determines the transition.
What I would like to see, however, is for every young girl and boy in Dominica, to begin seeing yourselves as young Ladies and young Gentlemen. Importantly also, I would like for you to set about wanting to be seen and treated as Young Ladies and Young Gentlemen.
Let us set aside the English dictionary for the time being. In the context of Dominica,
the difference between being a woman and being a lady, or between being a man and being a gentleman, can be summed up in three words – behavior, attitude and outlook.
Every student in this room, by virtue of the aging process, will become a woman some day. But it is a special type of individual that grows to become a lady.
In my sight, you are all special! That is why the Government of Dominica invests sooooo much time, effort and resources in your development. You are special to us, you are special to your teachers and you are special to your parents. I want each of you, however, to become special to yourselves!
Behavior, attitude and outlook, are crucial to the ideal of you being seen, and being related to, as a Young Lady.
What do I mean by behavior? To be a Young Lady, you have first to respect yourself. Respect others. Respect Institutions. And respect laws and authority.
By respecting yourself, you respect your mind, your body and your soul. If you respect your body, you are not likely to pump excessive amounts of tobacco, alcohol or other illicit or illegal substances into it. You are not likely to abuse or display it, in a carefree or lackluster manner. You would treat it as the temple that it is suppose to be and demand that others do likewise.
Being a Lady, requires adopting a positive attitude to life. It also demands that you have a progressive outlook on your future.
Time is against us this afternoon, therefore I invite your Principal and individual teachers to elaborate on these topics, in future sessions.
It is important for each of you to understand the changes in behavior, attitude and outlook that will be necessary, for you to make the transition that I am advocating today.
When you depart Wesley High, no matter your chosen profession or future area of study, what will give you the competitive edge, over all whom you encounter, is your attitude, and the perception of you in terms of character and other ladylike qualities.
The path to attaining and assuming the career you choose, is 90 per cent cleared and completed, if and when you assume the status and stature of Lady. All that is required thereafter, is application, diligence and hard work.
No matter what you want to become in life, I am suggesting to you this afternoon, that attainment thereof, will depend on how you see yourself and how others see you. More importantly however, is how you apply yourself and how hard you work.
Dominica, the Caribbean and the world over needs your skills and service in whichever profession you pursue. We need doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, nurses, farmers, fishermen, artisans, cleaners, landscapers, pilots, drivers, policemen, firemen, prison officers, …whatever you have a passion for, and wish to become, there is scope for its embrace in Dominica and the world today.
But today I wish to stress that academic achievement, by itself, will not see you through to the Promised Land. While it is the first of the necessities for success, I am concerned that too many students in Dominica today are comfortable with achieving an above average pass mark, and pay little attention to behavior; Too little attention to deportment; Too little attention to character and reputation.
Amazingly, while in primary and secondary school you need to be competitive and strive to be tops in your class, at college and university, a more rounded individual is preferred and sought after by employers and future associates.
I also want to impress upon you this afternoon, that in today’s world, it matters whether you have a sound education or not. No matter what career path you take, there are certain prerequisites to functioning effectively in today’s and tomorrow’s world.
For example, everyone here is familiar with Walmart. Walmart is the largest retail store in America and it is also found elsewhere in the world. A couple months ago I was in Walmart, and on approaching the cashier, I was directed to a self-checkout area, where there were more than one dozen computer display booths for use.
I marvel at the fact that elderly persons, some with walking sticks and wheelchairs, were in that section, competently operating the computer terminals; inputting items, applying discount coupons and completing transactions, in as proficient a manner as any 5th form computer studies student here in Dominica. I was forced to do the same.
This is the way of the world today, Ladies, and i am afraid there is nothing you can do to alter it.
Even if you wish to sit on the block and do absolutely nothing, professionally or vocationally, with your life, the evolving world demands that you arm yourself with the basic secondary education you are being offered and afforded here at Wesley High School.
To paraphrase the age old classic of Mighty Sparrow, there will be no place of significance in a 2020 Dominica, “for an Un-educated little boy or girl.”
That, Ladies, is the harsh reality with which you have got to come to terms.
So I am urging you this afternoon to make full use of the educational opportunities afforded you at this institution. Apply yourself and contain yourself. Do not rush life.
If you skip a stage in life, you miss out on a lot. Do not rush to adulthood. Adolescence is important. You need to experience being an adolescent, so you can impart certain knowledge and wisdom to your off spring.
Spend your time as a teenager, being a teenager; behaving like a teenager should, and respecting yourself as a teenager ought to.
Those seven teenage years come and go very fast. There is no need to rush them.
In bidding you farewell, I remind you once again of those three words I need each of your to embrace and ponder upon – behavior, attitude and outlook. Get these right, and you shall be seen and related to, as Ladies, for the rest of your lives.
I thank you very much for listening to me this afternoon.
May God Bless You all.
I thank you.