Home > UTC Media Centre > Speeches > ED delivers motivational speech to Form 6 graduates

June 16th, 2016

ED delivers motivational speech to Form 6 graduates




  • Archdeacon Kenley Baldeo (representing The Right Reverend Claude Berkley, Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago) & other Members of the Clergy
  • Hollis Nicholas – Deputy Chairman of the Board of Management (BOM) and Other Members of the BOM
  • Members of the TRINCOL Board of Management
  • Jennifer Doyle – Director
  • Derek West – Principal Trinity College East (TCE)
  • Perle Brewster – Principal Bishop Anstey High School East (BAHSE)
  • Shinelly Swan – Head of Sixth Form
  • Members of the Senior Management Team
  • Specially Invited Guests
  • Parents
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Graduates
  • Students

I thank you for your kind words of introduction.

With immense pride and pleasure, I would like to welcome parents, family members, teachers and faculty to this joyous and celebratory occasion. And most importantly, greetings to the graduates of Bishop Anstey and Trinity College East Sixth Form School! You made it! I salute you for completing this stage of your journey.

It is such an honour to be celebrating such a special moment with you, the 2016 graduating class – a brilliant, talented and outstanding group of young people. It is a moment you should capture: Take a look at the shoes you’re wearing, the person sitting next to you, the backdrop of the stage because this is where you make the transition to life. I am sure you feel the energy that pulses through this room.

A few short years ago you were sitting in your very first form 1 class. Back then, graduation day must have felt like it was so far in the future, but here it is. The certificate and recognition that you will be receiving today is a product of all your hard work, time spent in lessons, and tireless nights studying.

Take a good look around the room. You are surrounded by your peers, your beloved and respected teachers, your proud and dedicated parents and guardians. Everyone here has had a hand in helping you reach your first major milestone in life.

Today, you should feel a huge sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Cherish this moment and remember this feeling, because that positive attitude and ambition is the key to reaching and setting your goals.

As you leave here today, you will begin the next chapter of your life, and although there is no blueprint to life, I can share with you some things that I have learned along the way.

I was asked to speak on the theme “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

First and foremost, and I am sure you have heard this before, but it rings true in every way. “Your future is what you make it.” But what a lot of people don’t mention is how important the rightattitude is in shaping success in any aspect of your life. I am sure some, or most of you are wondering what I mean by the “right attitude”. Well let me share my views with you.

With the ‘RIGHT’ attitude, you have the power and control to be whatever you want to be, no matter where you start in life, it will infuse you with energy, it will make the difference in how you confront the challenges ahead. The ‘right attitude’ is a state of mind, an unshakable belief in yourself, the resolve to find solutions to any challenge that may come your way, it means giving your best in everything and never settling for less.

In my personal journey, I have embraced three “Attitudes” that make up my version of the “Right Attitude”. These are:

  • An Attitude of Gratitude: I say thank you to all who help and support me both in simple words and tangible actions;
  • An Attitude of Respect: I listen to as many persons as possible, no matter their perceived station in life because I realize that everyone can learn and everyone has something they can teach others;
  • An Attitude of Humility: In listening to Professor Surendra Arjoon, a renowned local professor of integrity and ethics, he emphasized that certain behavioural enablers for success cannot be “taught”, but can only be “caught”, key among those is the virtue of Humility. No one can teach you Humility, it can only be learnt through experience, and the only way to truly understand humility is to experience humiliation or embarrassment. It is considered a “Dark Gift”.

[My story around expectations at A-Levels and my failure to obtain a place in my first choice programme of BSc Management Studies at UWI, then being afforded the opportunity to be in a guinea pig class of BSc Accounting. Being teased by my “friends” who got into Management Studies and choosing to attend both the day classes and the evening programme. Achieving, along with Blair William, the first “First Class Honours in the BSc Accounting programme at UWI, St. Augustine Campus] So,….

What does it mean for you?

Everyone here has a different idea of what success looks like. For some, success is climbing up the corporate ladder, for others it’s excelling at sports and representing their country or spreading soca music to the world or dominating the artistic realm, all of which can lead to becoming affluent. For others, success comes from achieving personal goals.  The next few years are crucial, for these are your formative years, as you begin to build the foundation for the rest of your life. And as you embark on this journey, you will quickly learn that you will experience obstacles that are out of your control. You will face the realisation that life is unpredictable. While you can’t control the curveballs life throws at you, the one thing you can control is your attitude. It is not what happens to you that matters, but how you chose to handle it. This is what will make the difference. Ask yourself, will you have feet of clay or be like Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, whose attitude of persistence changed the way we communicate today.

As the dictionary defines it, attitude is a way of talking and behaving. However, its significance in our lives is much more.Attitude determines outcome. This truth is accepted by most of the successful people of the world, whether it is a doctor going for a surgery, or a businessman launching a new venture. A shining example is the story of Andrew Lewis, sailor who represented Trinidad in the 2012 Olympics. He suffered life altering injuries in a freak accident in Brazil in December 2015, broke his left leg, ribs, punctured his lung and brokeevery bone in his face. Andrew released a video titled “Believe” (it’s on You Tube) which shows his challenging recovery and his determination to program his mind-set to beat the injuries.By March 2016, Andrew was able to venture out sailing again and will represent Trinidad at the Rio Olympics later this year. He said in his video “It doesn’t matter how hard times are and how impossible you think it is, once you put your mind and heart to it,anything is possible.”It is attitude that provides them the winning edge and the key to success. As Muhammad Ali said, “Champions aren’t made in the gyms, Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

Attitude reflects behaviour. One’s attitude determines how you engage another person. If one smiles at the other, the other may smile back; while if one acts hard-nosed with the other, the other is likely to snap at him. So you see, our attitude directly affects the way we interact with our world, adopting a positive attitude is most certainly a deliberate effort.

Some of you have experienced the effects of positive interactions in your community projects and partnerships, visiting homes of the less privileged, helping with homework, upgrading the environment, launching a business lab, setting up the ‘sustainability is’ project, an initiative that strives to encourage students and staff to care for themselves, care for others and care for the environment in order to build a more sustainable school, community and country.Kudos to you on these creative and impactful programs.

Dreams and desires is a powerful motivator and it can direct a positive attitude. You have to have a hunger and a vision of what you want to achieve. When you have vision, it affects your attitude, your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic. Here is a quote from Venus Williams, former world No. 1 ranked professional tennis players that I want to share with you: “Some people say I have attitude – maybe I do… but I think you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there.”

Here you stand, as the graduating class of 2016, and the future now seems like less a distant reality. Some of you have decided to continue to further your education at a post-secondary level. Others have decided to dive into the workforce or are acutely interested in entrepreneurship and starting your own business. Regardless of the path you have chosen, as you transition into the next phase of your life, you will experience roadblocks that will have you feeling defeated, and you might find yourself asking why me. At that specific moment, you have a decision to make. You can choose to accept the negative, or you can choose to embrace the situation with the right attitude and treat hurdles as a challenge to overcome instead of a defeat. Learning to monitor your attitude is an important step in reaching your greatest potential in life.

My personal story in the field of finance over the past 21 years, upon reflection, has been pioneering. Born in POS General, I went home to my parents home in Morvant. We moved to Five Rivers Arouca and my teen years were spent in the NUGFW housing development in Realspring, Valsayn.  Primary schooling was at St. Joseph Boys RC and CIC for secondary education, before attending UWI. Upon graduation:

  • Failed at securing the Nestle Global Management Associate
  • Made an impression and was considered, although young and with only an undergraduate degree, for position of Price Risk Officer at Citibank
  • Took on multiple roles simultaneously, but did not receive the same perks as others at my same level (IVY league degrees vs UWI, different social and family backgrounds)
  • Became Vice President in charge of Structure Finance at age 24, among the youngest at that time in the world at Citibank, which was the largest company in the world at that time.
  • Became the youngest person to be a Managing Director at CIBC First Caribbean and among the most senior persons of colour at CIBC in the world.
  • Became the youngest Executive Director in the 34 year history of the Unit Trust Corporation.

As you continue to set priorities throughout your life, remember that your support system is focussed and committed to your development as you grow into young adults. Your teachers, parents and guardians have provided you with all the puzzle pieces to help you succeed; it is how you fit the pieces together that will determine your road to success. It will determine your attitude. I will go back to Muhammad Ali for another quote, he said “I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

As my speech comes to an end, I will leave you with this:Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react. Your attitude governs the way you perceive the world, and the way the world perceives you. In short and in case you missed everything I said, I will leave you with this: Attitude is like a magnet, possessing a good attitude attracts good vibes and good people, a bad attitude attracts negativity and bad company.

As you end this chapter of your life, and begin a new one, always remember, attitude is a way of life. It can and will be the foundation of your success. Congratulations on reaching this milestone, and I wish you all God’s richest blessings for your journey ahead.