More than 70 students earned degrees from the International College of the Cayman Islands and a graduation ceremony was held 5 January at the Family Life Centre to honour those achievements.
With 40 individuals receiving associate’s degrees, 20 receiving bachelor’s degrees and 12 collecting master’s degrees, Education Minister Rolston Anglin said the numbers were “impressive for a small community” and even more encouraging coming from such a small institution.
He told the graduates that as they moved forward it was important for them to seek to inspire others to grow by seeking tertiary education. The minister said this was necessary in order for the Cayman Islands to continue to build capacity.
“We are only as strong as the skill level of all of our people,” Mr. Anglin said.
He said a small town of 55,000 with an annual budget of $500 million was an anomaly of modern commerce.
The Education Minister said in a special sitting of Finance Committee to be convened shortly, the grant to ICCI would be increased.
“Investment in people is our No. 1 priority. We must mean it and we must fund it,” he said.
Valedictorian Kadian Smith Taylor, who majored in business administration: finance, told the audience the sacrifice was worthwhile. She thanked the staff and faculty of the university and urged her peers to continue striving for greater achievements.
“If you don’t know what you want, stay away from what you do not want,” she advised, adding that by avoiding what was not wanted, the road to what was desired would be paved.
The keynote address of the evening was given by Canover Watson, who is the director of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, as well as a hedge fund manager and the recipient of the 2007 Young Caymanian Leadership Award.
Mr. Watson told a story of how he was once stuck in a rainstorm on a trip from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale, during which the onslaught of water was so fierce the only way he was making it through was by staying behind an eighteen wheeler truck. He said had no more than 5 feet of visibility. He said he was able to do this for about 20 minutes before the truck’s indicators came on and the driver began to exit the freeway. It was at that point that Mr. Watson said his nightmare rainstorm came to an end, as it was the truck he had been following that was creating the intensity of the storm due to not having any mud flaps.
“I want to tell you that many of the storms you will face in life are no more real than the one I just told you about,” said Mr. Watson, who went on to challenge the students to face their challenges head on and develop the characteristics of leaders.
“They said you’re lazy. You have a sense of entitlement and your are not willing to work,” he told the graduates, adding this made him angry and it should make them angry as well, “because most of it is true.”
“We have to take responsibility for our own success,” Mr. Watson said. He said Caymanians must be prepared to compete against people in India, China and the United States, “not just those you are sitting next to.
“You are competing with 6 billion people for that job and you have to be the best – not just in Cayman – but in the world.”
Mr. Watson said there were few problems in life that could not be solved and encouraged the graduates to focus on solutions.
“The biggest difference between successful people and those who do not succeed is the choices they make,” he said. “Think bigger than yourselves. The future is in your hands. See your own potential and be the best at what you do. Cayman needs leaders and every successful person is a leader in their own right.”
The keynote speaker also told graduates to not simply rely on immigration policies to secure jobs for them, but rather work harder to make sure they were chosen for positions.
“Choose to be the best and leave the world with no other choice,” he said.