Saturday, 19 January 2013, 6.00pm
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Graduates,
It's an immense honour and a privilege to be standing here today as I'm sure many of you, for whom today marks your graduation, would agree. This afternoon, as I donned the gown, slid the sash over my shoulders and tried to figure out how to avoid getting hat hair with this thing, the immensity of the occasion hit me. For some of us, today marks the end of 2, 3, 5 years of study or longer, within ECU. But for everyone, as cliche as it may sound, it marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
My name is Stephen and I'm proud to be graduating from WAAPA with an Advanced Diploma in Stage Management. I have to put it out there, I'm also a proud born and bred Victorian. But in 2010, the choice to study here, to make the move to WA, was a simple one.
I spent my first year living on campus. On village. It was an amazing period of my life where I formed some truly life-long friendships. I remember ever couple of months we'd have these huge communal international pot dinners, where everyone on Village would be invited to bring a dish from their home country, we'd set up tables outside and we'd all sample and share. Sure, some of the food was questionable, other dishes were great, but it was the diversity and the breadth of cultures and people that was inspiring. To me, it showed the reach this University has and the international reputation; as there were students from everywhere, who had all made the same decision as me. To pack up and make the move, just to study at this university.
The day I arrived I was given one of these. Something every graduate here would have, my ECU student ID card. Aside from my horrifically tragic photo the card carries ECU's four core values. Integrity, Respect, Rational Inquiry and Personal Excellence. It was this last one, Personal Excellence, which really stuck out and drove me. To me, the University proclaiming Personal Excellence as a core value was not an endorsement to be self-obsessed, selfish or personally absorbed focussing on yourself instead of seeking excellence as part of a team, instead it was ECU proclaiming that this was an environment where everyone was not only focussed on helping us achieve the best that we could, but it was an environment where everyone supported and proactively encouraged that endeavour.
It was an environment that took an interest in the individual and presented opportunities to extend learning beyond the basic classroom to aid individuals in reaching their potential; whatever that potential may come to represent.
It was this attitude and focus on seeing me achieve the best that I could that saw lecturers assist me in obtaining placements across the country on big shows such as Jersey Boys and Mary Poppins. This was a community where everybody not only valued but respected individual endeavours; a community where people, staff, fellow students, bent over backwards to assist them.
Late last year I was awarded the title of WA's Vocational Student of the Year, I then went on to represent the state and walked away as the Runner-Up Australian Vocational Student of the Year. I'm now a national ambassador for Vocational training and my story, the story of my time here at ECU, is being published and used across the country in training and careers collateral, to encourage others to follow suit.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the University; the lecturers, the staff for maintaining that focus on personal excellence; on the individual. Standing onstage at the National Awards sure I was proud of what I'd achieved, but I was prouder of what I represented. And I, like every graduate this evening, was and will continue to represent this Uni.
So on behalf of every graduating student here, I'd like to thank the University; the lecturers, the staff. And of course our families and friends, mum and dad. For those not re-enrolling, today marks the end of our time as students at ECU and we all step into the role of alumni. For those who are re-enrolling......god luck! To everyone in a gown this evening, congratulations, take this moment to be proud in what you've achieved, personally. Have a great night and good luck with whatever the future holds.
My three years at WAAPA were challenging, tough and there were plenty of tears from everyone involved, but they were three of the best years of my life. And I'm sure that feeling rings true for every graduate this evening. Once again, congratulations. Thank you.
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