Victoria University MBA
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VU Graduation Occasional Speech 2013

THE OCCASIONAL ADDRESS BY ELIZABETH LEE
SENIOR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SUNWAY UNIVERSITY & SUNWAY EDUCATION GROUP
VICTORIA UNIVERSITY GRADUATION CEREMONY
SUNDAY, 14 JULY 2013, 5 pm
SUNWAY PYRAMID CONVENTION CENTRE

SALUTATIONS:

  • Honourable Chancellor, Mr George Pappas
  • The Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University, Professor Peter Dawkins
  • Esteemed Faculty of the University
  • My Sunway Colleagues
  • Proud Parents and family members
  • Distinguished guests
  • Last but not least, our Graduands for whom we are all gathered today.

It gives me a great honour to deliver an occasional address at this graduation ceremony. This is not just any graduation ceremony but the largest cohort thus far of offshore VU students graduating from Sunway in Malaysia. This large number of graduands called for a judicious divide of the ceremony into two sessions, and I have the distinct pleasure of addressing this evening’s assembly.

First of all, congratulations to the class of 2013 on your graduation day, a significant moment and one that will remain etched in your memory. Congratulations too, to all those who made it happen, the academic staff of VU, Australia and the Victoria University twinning programme in Sunway. Thank you on behalf of our graduands and their families gathered here.

Our relationship with VU goes back many years and today it feels like I am speaking to old friends. We established links with VU since the early 90’s. And quite soon after I started at Sunway College in 1992, I distinctly remember directing our then Dean of the ANZ programmes, as it was called, to actively pursue the potential partnership with VU. Our partnership was formalised, and we began our first intake in 1994 and this has remained to this day. It made absolute sense as I could see the immediate synergy, first as a complement to our established partnerships with Monash and UWA, and more importantly, it is the alma-mater of our Founder & Chairman, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Jeffrey Cheah and his lovely wife Puan Sri Susan Cheah, President of the Malaysian Australian Alumni Council.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah is probably one of the first Malaysian graduates of this institution. After his graduation, he returned to Malaysia as an accountant. Being the ambitious young man that he was, rather like many of you today, Tan Sri wanted to run his own business. He started SungeiWay Enterprise and developed a piece of mining land, which is where we are all sitting on now. Little did anyone realise the huge potential of that wasteland which he turned into what has become today the world-famous Sunway City with a theme park, resort hotels, this shopping mall, a medical centre and more pertinently to me personally, a thriving education city where universities and more than 30,000 students live and learn together. When he started Sunway College, he continued to be a supporter of the close relationship between VU and Sunway, which ultimately led to this very successful twinning degree programme between Sunway and VU, and the very reason why we are all here today, to celebrate the graduation of yet another successful cohort of Victoria University students via Sunway College.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I was once a student and I have amazing memories of my time at College and in university. It was there that I made many friends and met the love of my life. These are my firm, lifelong friends. Many others, I have reconnected with, through Facebook of course. I also had the privilege of being inspired by learned lecturers who kindled in me a yearning to know a lot more about whatever I was presented with, a quest for learning about the world, its people, and the lives they live.

My student days fuelled my yearning for adventure and I took to gliding, to the horror of my parents. It was an exhilarating activity. Besides the awesomeness of soaring among the clouds, looking for thermal lifts to remain airborne without any engine to power the aircraft, the world simply looks different from up there. As I contemplated in quiet solitude the world below me, I discovered that it changes at different angles, and details give over to a larger tapestry of a vantage point never obvious on the ground. The dots, which we concern ourselves so much with, all connect to form a much larger picture, a more important agenda. I saw life below me, and you can say God around me.

The point of that my dear graduands, is that you will also need to remember to see things from different points of view. While you can and need to focus on your specific task, you should heed the need to understand the whole situation, or the bigger picture, as they say. When situations arise, look at the factors that influence the situation, find and provide solutions to the situation. Think out of the box to look for your solutions. Take yourself out from the situation and seek innovation. Seek also opinions, for the more you listen to others, the more vantage viewpoints you will have and you will find your own unique and best solutions.

My dear students, or should I say alumni, today might be your official graduation day from the university, but you will never graduate from life. Make learning your lifelong preoccupation. Do not be arrogant about learning. I may have years of experience behind me, but I’ll confess to you right now that I have so much to learn from my young charges. Do note that I come from the days of the telegram and I still have a fax machine. Today I also email, text, tweet, Facebook and Instagram. I have stopped fussing whether text is a noun or a verb and I love how I am able to seek and share thoughts and ideas on Twitter and Facebook, and enjoy my students’ notable moments on Instagram. It is so much easier now to connect with people, and in connecting, hearts and ideas meet and may innovation follow suit.

In case you are wondering, I learned all these from you; I opened myself to your young minds and embraced the technology that came with you. I am therefore all the richer and will continue learning to enrich myself more. So you see, you will still have a lot of catching up to do with me.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
They say ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ You are bound to have bad breaks but hey, take that break. Take that break to observe, think, and learn, so you may be ready and innovative to overcome the obstacles and win the competition.

And if I may leave you with a plea, that as you leave the comfort of university life, may you be aware of others and those around you, who are less fortunate. Be empathetic to the needs of your community, and see how you can contribute, as Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah did, towards the cause of education when he started the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.

The scroll you are about to receive will connect you to your future and yet it also connects you to all those who made it happen for you today - your parents, guardians, family, loved ones, teachers in class, teachers in life. I know you will remember to thank them in your own way, won’t you?

With that, young ladies and gentlemen, congratulations once again and may you have many more successes in your professional and personal life. I wish you a life to be lived well, full of the joy of learning and discovery, and the wisdom to do the right thing. All the best in your future. May it be bright and may the Sun always shine your way.

Thank you for listening to me and thank you to VU for inviting me to speak. God bless you all.