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Graduates: spread your wings and soar like eagles - By Dr. Jane Nannono Kavuma

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Last week and this week, many young women and men are graduating from universities here in Uganda.


It has fiercely reminded me of my graduation donkey years ago. I sweated it out writing the theories for the first week and then did the clinicals for the last week. Five days later, I was reading my name on the faculty board, among those who had satisfied the requirements for the award of the degree. For weeks I floated on cloud nine.


 The following day, I reported for duty at my first station. A week later, I had to take off two days from work to graduate and celebrate the great achievement. Since then I have never stopped working.


Most of us were absorbed in the job market. But then those were different times: there was one national university as compared to more than 11 of them of today. Today, Uganda is aspiring to become a middle income level country by 2020.


On Graduation day, the winners are the new graduates, the lecturers and the parents. The parents have done all that is within their power to give their children the key tools they require to succeed in the world. They want them to be independent and functional, as they apply the knowledge and wisdom that they have acquired.


The lecturers have taught, explained, demonstrated and inspired these young people to go out to be more and do more for themselves and for the communities they live in. The graduates have reached a big milestone in their lives. Armed with knowledge, wisdom and special aptitude, they have to build a career and a life for themselves. They are full of expectations, ambitions and fascinating ideas like any other graduates in the global village.


This day signals the beginning of the actual work in the real world, taking full responsibility for your life and living your own life. I can compare it to earning the Driving License wherever you are. After getting it, you are able to legally drive in that particular country. However, you become a good, competent driver by driving on the road and learning patiently to accommodate other drivers while they also accommodate themselves to you as a driver.


The graduates can now spread their wings and soar like eagles. When the celebrations are over, they will wake up to the shocking reality that they are among the 40,000 who will be graduating this year to compete for the 8,000 jobs in the open market! They will also be reminded of the fact that Uganda has the world’s largest percentage of young people under 30 years of age according to the 2012 State of Uganda Population Report by the UN Population Fund. And that Uganda’s youth unemployment is the highest in Africa, as high as 83 percent.


Time will not stand still, so they will have to move on holding on to their dreams, visions and hearts’ desires and focus on the only two things they can control in the equation of  their success: their attitude and their thoughts. Their thoughts shape their lives and their attitude determines how far they can go. A positive attitude and positive thoughts will make or break them. These two influence the choices they will have to make in life which themselves build the big picture- my life. Your thoughts and attitude inspire your actions. You cannot create anything better than the consciousness that inspires your actions.


Their positive thoughts and attitudes will open them up to become flexible and confident to try new things or pick themselves up when they fail. They will not give up on their dreams once they do that; they are lost in this sea of graduates. They will learn to compromise a bit as long as their core values, principles and beliefs are not eroded.


They will have to start humbly and gradually grow from the experiences and challenges they face while building their lives and careers. To be noticed in this sea of graduates, one has to keep increasing or improving one’s skills and knowledge. The best thing to do is to look for opportunities of employing yourself. Our country is facing many problems like deforestation and the winners are the graduates who create appropriate solutions to such problems like coming up with efficient, cheaper, renewable forms of energy to replace the wood fuels. In this Digital era, exploiting the Information and Communications Technology to improve people’s lives can create job opportunities. Your value is attached to the solutions you create around you.


Definitely, the new graduates will need helping hands to lift them up so they should get into networking with like-minded people fast and train themselves to listen with their heart and ears.

I am now a senior citizen and can share what I have learned over the years in the hope that it will inspire these graduates to use their power and potential to turn their highest dreams and aspirations to reality.

  1. I remain the Master of my fate and my life is a product of all the choices I have made. I may choose to be fearful and live in hell here on earth or be courageous enough to follow my dreams and live in paradise here on earth.
  2. I am human: I have some limitations so I will succeed at some and fail at other things. What matters is for me to learn a lesson from my failures and use it to improve my future.
  3.  It is never too late to change direction. When l feel empty and life feels sterile, I should allow a new voice to emerge within me. It will keep me on the right life course for me.
  4. Not to waste any gift or talent in life, I should harness them all for my own good and for the good of others. I should also find the potential in the people I influence and encourage them to use their gifts to the maximum. Every day, I should count my blessings and be thankful. It lines me up for more blessings.
  5. Not to become too rigid and locked into old ways, I should continue dreaming big, learning, having fun and having a zest for life. Life is bigger than my job or career.

For those who have been able to find a decent job with decent pay, be grateful and give it your whole. Nothing feels better than doing what you love. It is not work anymore but fun. But still do not get too comfortable. You stop growing and scaling higher mountains. Remember there are no ‘lifetime’ jobs anymore. As the greatest icon of our time, Nelson Mandela, observed: When you reach the peak, you find that there are many other peaks to climb.


For those who are still looking, have the courage to keep looking and the humility to take the road less travelled. As they say: The hunt is never over until both your heart and your belly are full.


Charles Darwin, the English biologist and naturalist said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survive. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’’


All the best as you carve your own path in today’s world.






LESSONS I have learned:


Level 4 (XP: 1050)
Inspiring, as always. Humility is the word. A willingness to do any job, anywhere. Keeping up hope. Focus. These are some of the words I share with young graduates.

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