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Faculty of Business and Law - Graduate Speaker: Yvonne Willers

Sunday, 13 September

Yvonne Willers


Welcome Chancellor, The Honourable Dr Hendy Cowan, Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and fellow graduates.

Today is a celebration of hard work, commitment and tenacity. Congratulations to all the graduating students’ - on a mission accomplished.

It is a privilege and honour to be the speaker on behalf of the Edith Cowan University 2015 graduating cohort for the Faculty of Business and Law. It is a privilege to have been awarded a degree. This opportunity to study at ECU has been a life changing experience.

Edith Cowan University is named after the first woman to be elected to an Australian Parliament Edith Dircksey Cowan. The University was established in 1991 and it is the modern offspring of the first institution of higher education in WA.  

Our founder, Edith Cowan, believed that education was the key to growth, change and improvement and her contribution to the development of education in WA is evident.

Edith Cowan University has a foundation of values and principles which have inspired and motivated us to excel.  The stated values of integrity, respect, rational inquiry and personal excellence have always been a personal focus for me throughout my time at university.

The learning environment at ECU has been particularly supportive, flexible and relevant to me, and the skills I have learned at University have crossed over easily into the workplace and have enhanced my professional life.

The teaching qualities of my ECU teachers have ensured that I have exceeded my academic expectations, thank you.

Most of us in this theatre today are competitive by nature and have questioning minds. We have to know the how, why, when and where. In my experience these questions can only be answered with purpose, curiosity for information, the sacrifice of time, attention to detail and hard work.

My husband and children have been enormously supportive and encouraging during my university journey. At times they have felt and been neglected. They have taken this on the chin due to their appreciation and understanding of how important this opportunity was to me.

My family have lived with a wife and mother who at times was stressed and focused in one direction towards assignment deadlines and exam pressure. I am sure you have all had similar experiences in trying to achieve life balance while working hard towards a worthwhile and life changing qualification.

It would not have been possible for me to have achieved my goal of a university degree without the loving support and reassurance of my family.

My fellow students we are now about to enter a highly competitive world. We will enter that world with the enormous advantage of a university degree. It is said that knowledge is power but with power comes responsibility: the responsibility to use and apply this knowledge to improve the business and social community in which we will serve. 

This gift we now possess should be used to advance ourselves as well as assist those that may not have had similar opportunities or advantage. This will be our greatest contribution.

The world is our oyster and the skills and knowledge obtained from the privilege of our university education can now be employed with a sense of pride, motivation and determination to succeed. 

We should be alert to stretching boundaries, grasping opportunities and being exemplary in our endeavours. In my experience it is important in the workplace to be adaptable to change, flexible and creative, both in a sense of organisational structure and technology.

Our University qualification should give us the confidence and empower us to think innovatively as well as the insight to never be afraid to learn, unlearn and relearn. This is the power of knowledge. Life is a marathon not a sprint: we have all learnt this whilst studying for our degrees.

Today is the result of many years of hard work and effort which has now been recognised with the award of our degree from a world class university. 

All that remains for me to say from the words of Albert Einstein “learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is not to stop questioning”.

Good luck

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