Speech Delivered By B. Elias Shoniyin at the Commencement Graduation of Esther Bacon School of Nursing & Midwifery in Zorzor, Lofa County
SPEECH BY B. ELIAS SHONIYIN , DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND POLICY, CUTTINGTON SCHOOL OF GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDIES, AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF AFRICA DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES (ADMA), AT THE COMMENCEMENT GRADUATION OF ESTHER BACON SCHOOL OF
NURSING AND MIDWIFERY
ZORZOR, LOFA COUNTY
JUNE 25TH 2022
2022 Graduates of Esther Bacon
Faculty and Staff;
Local Administrative Leaders;
Family Members and Friends of the Graduating Class,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am overwhelmingly excited to be here on the campus of the legendary Esther Bacon School of Nursing and Midwifery, in the historic city of Zorzor today.
Today, you celebrate great success of academic excellence which have brought so many people out here. You graduates, over the last months and years, burned the midnight oil and isolated yourselves from the temptation of routine socialization only to make this day possible.
I just want to thank you the graduates, and leadership of Esther Bacon, and your families, for granting me the opportunity to share in this your exciting day with you all.
I salute you Madam Director, and those before you, and your outstanding faculty and staff who have kept the torch of hope by getting this School going over five decades.
Now, you graduates here have even greater responsibility to keep the flames of Esther Bacon alive for future generations to also benefit from this fountain of knowledge and to remember that the class of 2022 was not just here, but that they made a difference.
These graduates leave here today as a testament of endurance and service of this great institution. You leave this school today as the world emerges from several rounds of COVID 19 variants that delt deadly blow on all of humanity and stagnate the global economy since 2020. While we celebrate today, we pay solemn homage to the more than 6.2 million people who have succumbed to COVID around the world.
On this historic occasion, I will share my thoughts on the theme: “Unleashing New Mindset and Disrupting the Status quo”.
According to USAID 2021 publication on Global health, “health is an essential foundation for long-term development of economies and societies. With a rapidly growing population, a healthy, productive workforce requires sound investments in human capital”. This is what Esther Bacon School of Nursing and Midwifery has been dedicated to over 50 years.
The WHO 2021 health priority index which points out priority of governments to spend on healthcare from their domestic public resources, reveals a very sad narrative for Liberia’s healthcare situation today and for the immediate future. The index puts Liberia almost at the bottom of all countries in West Africa that prioritize adequate investment in the health of its people. Liberia is at 3.46%, only higher than Guinea with 3.05%.
I hope this number can draw our attention to the urgency for action and the threat to current generation and those of tomorrow. We can never build a vibrant society with ailing and unhealthy people. Today, there are overwhelmingly horrible stories of mothers watching helplessly as their children suffer and die from illnesses that can be prevented and cured, only if they can access even basic medical care. And the most important assets of a basic medical care are the healthcare workers like yourselves here today.
The state of our healthcare I have drawn here today is not intended to scare you, but to prepare you for the challenges ahead in the field you have chosen. You must bear in mind that those who enter this field are not driven by financial rewards; they are instead driven by compassion and love for humanity, and to fulfill their desire for building a healthy and prosperous society.
You have an opportunity when you leave here today, to join ranks with those who build, those who construct and those whose creativity have given hope for a better Liberia. You have your future before you and so thus the choices that make a better future.
You graduate today at a difficult and rapidly changing time, when our country is challenged with dire economic woes, diseases and ignorance, while the Government of Liberia continues to rally its citizens against the deadly Coronavirus infections. The problems you confront today as you leave this place are scary but not insurmountable.
As we follow the news daily, we have all been held in shock and awe, as we hear horrible stories of agony, fear, and injustice in in our country. The cries of the poor are reverberating beyond our shores. These didn’t just start today; they have only been amplified. These cries have been ignored for decades.
The burden of change cannot only be on government and its officials; it is on every Liberian, particularly, those like you who have been blessed with an education. We have an obligation to move beyond ourselves to make this country work. Change do not just happen – people make it happen!
Today Esther Bacon graduates 25 of you as nurses and midwives, but I wish the most valuable skills you take from here today are compassion and empathy. Studies show that nurturing a more empathic relationship with patients can lead to better recovery outcomes.
You should put yourself in patient’s shoes; feel what they feel and understand their emotions. When a person is ill or in medical distress at a health center where you would be assigned, you should know that they will be looking up to you for relief and care, and not harsh words and hostility. That’s when they need to be loved; that’s when they desire a compassionate touch; that’s when they need eyes of assurance that they will be alright; that’s when they need to trust you. Your presence should give families of your patients confidence that you will exert all efforts and do all you can to help their sick.
You came to Esther Bacon months and years ago, engrossed yourselves in the doctrine of medical caregiver, among the best that Liberia can offer. You acquired skills that have given you potential to build successful lives. You have together concluded this difficult journey, and now prepared to enter the real world. The question now is how are you going to use the skills given you? What do you intend to do with the skills?
Are you going into the hospitals and clinics only with the technical skills you have acquired here? If that’s the case, I am afraid that Esther Bacon has today produced graduates with skill but no hearts. And in the medical field, professionals with the best skills but no hearts are tragedy about to happen.
Your time here at Esther Bacon did not give you all of the answers of life, but it gave you the discipline and capacity to push the boundaries of your thinking, to find answers to the problems of life. Esther bacon has played its part, by molding women and men on whose talents our healthcare sector should continue to thrive. Now, it’s your turn to play your part, to become a positive force in your field, and to be the light that shines for others to find their way. Be different; don’t be ordinary; be extraordinary.
Now, I challenge you to go out into communities, cities and villages, in service and make a difference!