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The Misuse, Abuse of Graduation Ceremony Speeches

November 6 , 2021
By Eden Sahle ( Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at )

The past month has been a season of graduation for higher-learning institutions. One cannot help but notice that the speeches delivered to the new graduates are nothing less than boring and unencouraging.

Graduation ceremonies are excellent opportunities to invite people with a unique path to success, who have passed through obstacles that life threw at them to conquer their fears and realise their potentials. Ceremonies are not opportunities for high-ranking officials to read out what the graduates are weary of hearing in the media.

Those of us who have graduated know the impediment of joining the under-employing and under-paying job sector in Ethiopia. We are expected to turn nothing into something because what we have is disproportionally limited compared to many others in the world. In a country soaked with myriad crises, preparing the youth for the workforce should not be neglected.

For universities and colleges, graduation ceremonies should mean more than just handing certificates of curriculum completion and having an official readout of old and tired speeches. Graduation is the beginning of a lifelong journey for graduates, and it should be valued as such.

Many people in Ethiopia conquered much hardship and made it to the top. These people’s resilience and determination can hearten young people from the experience of loss, roadblocks, and frustration. They have an inspirational pitch that makes them unstoppable and resourceful to anyone paying attention to their inspiring stories.

Such stories help graduates understand that the path to success is paved with inconveniences and hardships. It is those kinds of advice that will ease the frustration they will face navigating life in a country which is not ready for them. Real-life stories from role models serve as encouragement when one is not presented with an apparent opportunity out there. They promote insightfulness, creativity, and perseverance.

The stories of such people can give hope and encourage us to discover our potential. Their life journey can be a real-life testimony with the ability to encourage the youth to dream big despite the challenges awaiting them at every corner. Universities and colleges need to learn to select speakers who can inspire to create a meaningful and lasting impact that can stay in the minds of the graduates.

When graduates face confusing and difficult times as we all are right now, with the effects of a stagnant economic situation and civil war, it is easy to get discouraged and lose hope. Encouragement and hope are needed to find strength and resilience, especially during times that might otherwise lead graduates and many of us to be discouraged.

People’s stories are powerful. Learning from others and setting a goal can keep thoughts focused, direct energy to the right things, and inspire the hope needed to move through and beyond a moment of despair.

By having great advice and clear goals, we become aware of precisely what we want to achieve and how to go about doing it. It enables us to assess and measure our ability to accomplish the goals we have in life.

Role models are examples of commitment and determination and icons of continuous and consistent action toward making dreams a reality, despite obstacles and difficulty. Inviting speeches from such people who have goals and stay committed will keep graduates and anyone listening to focus more and grind harder.

Graduation speeches should not expend precious ceremony time on issues that have nothing to do with what the youth wants in their lives. It is up to the academic institutions to have a vision for their graduates and support their plan, sending them well equipped not just with certificates to show but inspiring advice that can lead them to meet their potential.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 06,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1123]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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