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(SNO) – On the same day four members of one family from Saint Lucia were graduating from the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), another Saint Lucian was creating her own history – at the same institution.
Shanelle Octave, the daughter of John Octave and Irene Maximillien of Vieux-Fort, was this year’s valedictorian, who graduated with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.98 in accounting.
The USC held its 85th graduation ceremony on Sunday, July 1 in Maracas Valley, St. Joseph, Trinidad. USC is arguably the top faith-based institution in the eastern and southern Caribbean.
In an interview with St. Lucia News Online (SNO) on Thursday, July 5, the 23-year-old future accountant spoke of the challenges, triumphs and support that enabled her success.
She said it was not easy and the “greatest challenge” was maintaining the grade.
“I remember every night I called on God,” she said. “Truth is I couldn’t have done it without God.
“I remember doing taxation and my lecturer was tough. I remember telling him I will get a 100 percent in that final exam. He said he will go over my paper five times if he has to, to spot errors…. When the exam was over only I had a different answer and I thought I failed cause the entire class had the same thing. But guess what? I did get that 100 percent which means I was the correct one,” Octave explained.
The former Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School (VFCSS) and VFCSS ‘A’ Level student said this success required “lots of late nights, lots of hard work, balancing a social life, student worker life, and a student life”.
She credited her success as well, to a supportive friend and family network.
“But friends helped made it easy. I had awesome friends. The one who inspires though: [I] am self-motivated. They were awesome.
“I come from a big family [and the] first to attend university, and I am just so glad God allowed me to make my parents proud,” she concluded.
Below is her valedictorian speech.
We made it! Greeting class of 2018. I am Shanelle Octave – your unemployed valedictorian.
I stand before you today with joy and gratitude to represent this class. This is an end, a beginning, a continuation, an intermission – we all view this day from a different perspective. What this ceremony truly encapsulates is a great accomplishment enclosed by the walls of true identity and well-founded principles, where our growth, development and maturity were fostered for the last four years.
Permit me to take you through this journey we endured. Like many persons who seek to start a business would require a steady capital, we too began this journey with a great need of capital.
You see, many individuals use their capital for building restaurants, hotels and industries, but we have invested our capital in education – a service that brought about great interest.
Our interest goes far beyond than just acquiring a hotel, today, our interest will qualify us to be doctors, nurses, chefs, lawyers, managers, accountants, and economists. I dare say we now stand as better versions of ourselves, but refinery was not an easy process. Along the way, we had many losses-Losses that probably would have discouraged us. But here’s what, when we sit and we read about Oprah, who lost her identity and self-confidence as result of brutal rape but today she stands as one of the greatest Black Powerful richest women in the world.
And what about Bill Gates, his first attempt at business, he failed miserably- that was his lost. Wasn’t it students? But today 76Billion dollars net worth placed him probably as one of the richest man in the world. And we have Thomas Edison, we all know the story- one who failed may be not 900, a 1000 probably 10000 times. But he rose to the occasion and today we have light bulbs.
Don’t Lose hope. Don’t because our loses can be our stepping stone to greatness. Like yes, we have made bad partnership agreement, we would have lost friends, persons who kept us back. We lost our social life, some of us lost our minds, we lost sleep. Today, we no longer have those bags on our backs, instead, they’re under our eyes, showing that we were indeed created to conquer, molded to endure.
Now that we have reached the end, don’t get me wrong, the end of USC, our energy levels significantly taxed, nevertheless, we have earned substantial profit margins. We gained greater knowledge and wisdom, we now have a degree, not just an ordinary degree, but one that encapsulates God, one that is centered around every aspect of this life.
As we reflect on all that we have achieved and who we have become and the investments made in us, we must recognise our investors, those who we are indebted to, for without those projections we wouldn’t be who we are today-We have our holistic investor- God the Almighty who kept us wholesome, our significant shareholders-like our parents who ensured that we never went bankrupt along with our financial contributors who kept the cashflow injections running.
Mom-Irene Maximillien and Dad John Octave I love you guys. Thank you! We also had other key stakeholders that contributed socially to who we are, and for me, this includes my supportive sister Jasmine Kisna, my godparents- Donavan and Joyce Eugene, My first friend from USC Khadija Hamilton, my fellow dorm mates including my roommates especially Pretoria Hamilton, my accounting buddies especially Shinece Barrow, my lecturers especially Mrs. Stacey Simmons Roberts who saw the fruits of my labours and invested in me- you have greatly impacted my life. My best friend Kaysia Verneuil and my community the persons who encouraged me or supported me in one form or fashion.
In all of this, as I approached the completion of those financial affairs, I realized something wasn’t balancing- it wasn’t completed, I missed one of my most valuable assets, the one who made this final year memorable, my beloved Quincy De Velde. I thank you!
To the graduating class of 2018, as we go forward into our various walks of life- some of you will go out into the world of work, and some may seek higher education. Some of you will meet new people, will make new friends, and learn new things. Some may be fearful of what is to come. Whatever you do, my colleagues, remember to be steadfast in the ways of the Lord and hold on to the positive values we learned from our Alma Mater, for we were created to conquer, molded to endure.
In closing, I leave you with this advice from my roommate Lilianna Hamilton. An advice which always aided me during difficult times. There are always two solutions to every situation:
You can fret and worry, and then realise you can pray or
You can just pray. The first option allows you to be bitter, depressed and be discouraged while the latter gives hope – choose wisely.
Congratulations Class of 2018! WE Did it! Go Beyond Excellence!
I thank you!