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Faculty of Business and Law - Graduate Speaker

Sunday, 22 January 2012 at 10.30am

Ms Rebecca Olsen


Chancellor; Vice-chancellor; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen; fellow graduates; family and friends. It is an honour to speak today on behalf of the student body.

Well Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.

These were Dorothy Gales’ first words as she walked out into the strange world of Oz and started her journey towards the emerald city.

For those of you that somehow missed this iconic tale here are the spark notes.

Dorothy is a shy farm girl that gets swept up in a tornado and dropped into this strange yet wonderful land called Oz. Now in order for her to get home she has to follow the yellow brick road to the emerald city where the wizard of Oz has the ‘power’ to grant her wish.

It was the tornado of high school bought me to ECU. As a fresh 17 year old I felt a little like Dorothy who had been dropped into this strange new world.

I now leave with a double degree under my belt, a great job and a small business – it has been quite a journey.

It was always Dorothy’s journey to the emerald city that I loved and one which reminds me a little bit of the journey we have all made through ECU:

  • We made our way through fairly unknown lands towards a goal that at the time seemed a long way away.
  • On the way, we picked up some friends and allies who taught us the importance of courage, heart and brains.
  • The wicked witch of the west (let’s call her exams) popped up from time to time to test our courage and commitment.
  • It was lucky we had a number of good witches (let’s call them uni staff) to guide us through and give us any shiny red help that we needed.
  • And at the end of the journey (here today) a very wise man (or in this case woman) gives us what we need to grant our wish.

But what we need to understand is, like Dorothy – The journey, or in this case our time at ECU gives us the knowledge and skills we need to be successful in our industry, but it is up to us to choose how we want to apply those skills in the world.

My big criticism of Dorothy was that she never questioned her pathway. A pretty woman covered in bling told her that that was the way she needed to go so she faithfully did… “follow the yellow brick road.. follow the yellow brick road.. follow the yellow brick road..”

So my question to you is…

Is the emerald city the right place for you?

Maybe you should be looking towards an iron ore city like Rio Tinto or BHP Billiton, or towards a gold city like CBA or Macquarie or towards a political destination like the white house.

Maybe you should be looking beyond the yellow brick road to the red brick road that will take you through the journey of post grad study.

Maybe you should jump in that hot air balloon and take it, not home, but to an exotic destination where you can make a difference in another community or build a career.

 Or maybe you should take those skills you have learnt and those friends you have met along the way and use them to build your own city.

So I will leave you today with some life lessons from the Wizard of Oz:

From the lion that was so desperate for some courage – don’t be scared to take risks.

From the tin man that was so desperate for a heart – follow your passions and do what you love.

From the scarecrow that was so desperate for some brains – keep learning.

And finally – don’t be an idiot like Dorothy – be the master of your own destiny and choose your own destination – whatever that may be.

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