The following is an excerpt from the President Claude Brulé’s October 28 address at the 2020 Convocation; learn more about Algonquin College first virtual convocation here.
As your President, I am both humbled and honoured to have this opportunity to celebrate your resilience and success.
Amidst the events reshaping our global reality, be they the pandemic, climate change, the fight for social justice and equality, or automation and the world of Artificial Intelligence, we come together to celebrate your incredible achievement, which is all the more remarkable given these extraordinary times.
In this age of great uncertainty, I can be certain of one thing…. The steadfast determination you have displayed will serve you well in the new environment being shaped so rapidly before us.
The world you are entering, upon graduation, looks nothing like the world from even a year ago. Yet, along with the challenges that lay ahead, the future holds promise and opportunities the likes of which have not been presented to any generation for a long time.
The door is open for you to really change the world, and not in a clichéd sense, but in real and tangible ways, emboldened with fresh ideas and new perspectives.
It also stands ready for your generation’s champions of social justice, to address issues of inequity, and the lack of diversity and inclusion that recent events have brought to the forefront in ways that can no longer be ignored.
Whatever your path forward, you will have the opportunity to help lead a true transformation –
to recalibrate the socio-economic inequities for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour on a scale never seen before. And to reshape the modern workforce and break new ground in your chosen field.
Embracing our community will hopefully be one of the enduring legacies to emerge from these times, and you will be the ones to pass this on to the next generation.
Education, in its many forms, is a significant touchstone. It helps form the solid ground beneath our feet. It allows us to adapt, pivot and anticipate rather than merely react when change inevitably challenges our lives.
The knowledge and skills you have acquired here at Algonquin College are now part of your “tool kit”, helping to “future-proof” your career.
I want to borrow now from my colleague, Ron (Deganadus) McLester, Algonquin’s Vice President – Truth, Reconciliation & Indigenization. He often uses the metaphor of arrows in a
quiver. An arrow on its own will snap easily, however when they are bundled together, they are strong and resilient. Having many arrows in your quiver provides strength, and will enhance your confidence when faced with the many challenges set to come your way.
So … going forward … be inspired to learn new things and develop new skills. Fill your quiver with more arrows and make your mark.
Everything of value starts with an idea. What ideas are you preparing to share with the world? What script are you about to write?
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the author, Neil Gaiman, and I’d like to borrow what I think is an appropriate quote from his book, Art Matters: “It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that society is huge and the individual is less than nothing. But the truth is, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.”
So, when you think about your future, where does your imagination take you? The world needs your creativity, your energy and your resiliency more than ever before. It needs you to dream big dreams, and to go forward and be fearless.
Be unafraid to fail and to learn from your missteps. To borrow again from Neil Gaiman: “Now go, and make interesting mistakes…Make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here.” History is filled with the stories of entrepreneurs and leaders in every field whose ideas met with initial dismissal, failure, and seemingly insurmountable odds before they achieved success.
So let opportunity be what defines you. I know you already possess the determination, imagination and innovative spirit to overcome any obstacles in your path.