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Ethiopian Adventist College Commencement Address 35th Graduation Exercice


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Ethiopian Adventist College

Commencement Address 

September 3, 2017

Kuyera

 

Class of 2017

Congratulations! Class of 2017! You have made it. No one is going to take this away from you now. No matter how easy or difficult your journey has been, you are completely done for now! Congratulations!

I wish to congratulate the spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and family members of the graduates for standing with you throughout your ordeal over the course of your studies. Without a doubt, today is your day as well.

Our deep appreciation goes to the faculty, staff and administration of Ethiopian Adventist College for enabling the graduates to get this far. We know about the tedious, difficult work and the labor of love that goes into the teaching and learning process. Congratulations!

Congratulations for making it this far!

I see that you have composed a wonderful Class Aim and Motto.

Class AIM:         To put our dreams in our hearts; our hearts in God’s hands

Class MOTTO: Each for the other and all for Christ 

Indeed, it is the right plan to put your hearts in God’s hands and your trust in Christ.

 

Forty-six years ago last June (1971), I graduated from 12th grade in this same institution. Much has transpired since then. It is a special honor for me to be here with you at this grand occasion.

 

If you allow me to reminisce a little, I remember quite vividly, the first Saturday night here at Kuyera, in the Chapel. As an 8th grader and a novice on campus, I auditioned to join the choir that first week. You have to remember that I was aware of the infamous Kuyera Choir as a little boy at Filwoha Church during their annual visits and envied these fortunate young ones. In that Chapel audition, once I made it after a long wait in the long line of hopefuls, Mr. Holms and Mr. Shavlik determined I must, not only join the choir, but sing a solo at the podium on the first student night. That was in September 1966 (51 years ago). I feel privileged to be able to site experiences this long ago – Praise be to Him! That Saturday night ushered in a long tenure in Choir membership, leading roles, and piano playing, even beyond the Kuyera years.

 

To a large extent, Kuyera made me who I am today. Please permit me to honor and acknowledge the wonderful individuals who served this institution and its former students with their sacrificial and professional life right here. I believe it is important to take the time to recognize the wonderful and Christian job they did to so many of us who attended this remarkable institution.

 

It is here that great individuals shaped my mind, hand and heart. It included individuals such as Ato Truneh WoldeSelassie, our History and English Teacher and Academic Dean, and his wife Sister Likimyelesh Kassa, our classmate, School Nurse, Head of the Pre-Nursing Training Program and Head of the Cafeteria; Ato Abebe Bezuneh our Biology Teacher and Boys Dean, and his wife Sister Zewditu Nigussie, our School Nurse and Teacher; Dr. Ole-Chr Bjerkan, our School Principal, and his wife who taught Typing (Norway); Ms. Mary Magnussen, Head of the Mathematics Department and Choir Director (Sweden). I just learned this weekend that Ms. Magnussen put EAC in her will and upon her passing, the school received some 575,000 ETB; Mr. G. Shavlik, our Science and Mathematics Teacher and Choir Pianist, and his wife our Bible Teacher (USA); Dr. W. F. Riley, our School Principal and Head of the Science Department, and his wife who taught Nutrition and Home Economics (USA); Dr. Holms, the Workshop Director, and his wife our School Nurse (USA, Canada); Mr. P. W. Naesheim, Head of Theology Department (Norway) and his wife Christel Hogganvik Naesheim (story of Haile Sellassie I royal drive through to Hawassa); Dr. S. Bacchiocchi, Head of the Theology Department and History Teacher and Director of the School Furniture Factory - he was a brilliant teacher and consummate businessman (Italy); Dr. A. Sbacchi, Head of the History Department and his wife who taught English and was our Church Pianist (Sicily, Sweden); Mr. H. Larson, Head of the Education Department (USA); Mr. Frank Petrov, our Farm Manager, and his wife Christa, our Librarian (Germany); Mr. Leonard Laabs, our Industrial Arts Head and his wife who took interest in some of us students and taught us piano; Mr. Robert and Mrs. Karen Blinci, our Business Teachers (USA), Mr. Thorn, was our Industrial Arts Manager, and his wife our Business Manager (Sweden); Mr. Donald Van Tassel, Head of Science Department and Bible Teacher (USA); Mr. Stig Peterson, Business Manager (Denmark); Two young volunteers Marianne Patton, our Counselor, and Marcy Jacobson, an Elementary School Teacher (USA); Sister Ethiopia Tadesse taught in the Nursing School; Ato Redai Birru, taught Mathematics, English, History and Psychology; Ato Alemayehu Adamu, was our Amharic Teacher; Mr. Marter was our School Principal and his wife our English Teacher (Britain); Mr. Gunnar Engdahl, Head of the Social Studies Department (Sweden); Ato Hailemelecot Zerai, the School Accountant; Ato Nemera Fufa, our Bible Teacher and Boys Dean, and Dr. Hamdessa Tusso, our Bible Teacher; Ato Mesfin Kinfu and Ato Zemichael Habte Mariam, were here taking part in the National University Service program. Ms. Wubet was the Girls Dean. Dr. Tadesse Daba was the Principal of the Elementary School.

 

You can see how international our teaching team was in those days with majority of the teachers coming from abroad. The diversity of countries represented from the SDA world across the globe was notable. As you heard, we had the staff, in addition to the national contingent, coming from Britain (2), Canada (1), Denmark (1), Germany (2), Italy (2), Norway (4), Sweden (4), USA (11) – in all, 27 international staff engaged in teaching and management roles. As a result, this institution produced so many successful individuals who now live productive and responsible lives across the globe.

It is also here that I learned to be socially active in class, in the evening study sessions, in choir, as leader of the mathematics and science clubs, learned and played piano, got baptized, and built my personal character. It is here that I was influenced to choose a career in teaching. Dr. Bjerkan was a great influence on me as I admired and appreciated his leadership skills in running a well-oiled school. He used to post on the school bulletin board all the school programs and made the campus impeccable looking and garden like. I remember once when Emperor Haile Selassie visited our campus. The campus beautification project was fully underway and my task with others was to paint all roadside trees white about one meter up from the ground. Dr. Bjerkan personally used to inspect the work and I remember him taking pride in the work well done. I remember the Friday evening sacred music that we used to listen to, right after dinner strolling around campus with the sound blasting across the valley from Toppenberg Hall loudspeakers – to my amazement, even my solo singing would sometimes be broadcast during those Friday evening campus walks.  Those were memorable years. I chose the teaching profession because of the superlative Duo - Ato Truneh WoldeSelassie and Ato Abebe Bezuneh. These were teachers the equal to which I have never come across. I have attended some great schools, and these two stand at par with anyone who I consider great, including my Stanford University professors.

Yes, Kuyera made me who I am today!

This occasion, most certainly, is not about me or my generation of students and teachers - I just had to pay tribute to those great people and share my memorable years here at this great institution. This is a unique opportunity to highlight that this School has a very rich history - a history that needs to be told, remembered and used as inspiration.

 

But, today it is all about you!

 

Lets now turn and focus on you - The Class of 2017.

 

You have wisely chosen well-crafted AIM and MOTTO.

Class AIM:         To put our dreams in our hearts; our hearts in God’s hands

Class MOTTO: Each for the other and all for Christ 

Life enclosed in God’s hands and trusts in Jesus Christ will never falter. I commend you for these faithful words. Do resolve to live by them!

 

My central message for you today comes from two sources:

 

1.    From Acts 3:1-10

2.    From Mr. DeVon Franklin, an African American Hollywood Film Executive who shares the secrets of his successful career as a Christian, even a Seventh-day Adventist.

Acts 3:1-10 – Read

 

§  You may not have “silver and gold”, but learn to share, even from the little you have.

§  You have received much, delight in giving. To those to whom much is given, much is expected.

§  You say you have not much to give. We are not discussing financial assistance only here. There is much a Christian can give, outside of finances.

§  Be a model worker. Be a Daniel at work.  Keep your body a holy temple of God.

§  Be at peace with all around you, as Paul admonishes us in Romans 12.

§  Use clean language in your daily dealings.

§  Say no to unclean temptations and unclean life style.

§  Demonstrate that Christ is in your everyday life.

§  You may not have ‘silver or gold’; but reject ethnic biases and treat yourself as a Child of the King and all others as sons/daughters of the Almighty God.

§  Be an active member at your local church. Don’t just let others serve you. Decide to serve others too.

§  As stated in verse 8, the lame man, , “and leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God”

§  Just like Peter and John, enable others to leap for joy and praise God.

§  Don’t allow anyone to mock your YOUTH. You are not too young to do great things. Prepare for a life of adventure and accomplishments.

§  Some of my heroes include Alexander Hamilton (build the American Government System during his 20s, died at 49), Atse Tewodros (48), President Abraham Lincoln (48), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (39). I selected these for you, because they accomplished all that they did when they were very younger, mostly in their 20’s and 30’s.

§  Some of you may end up with some ‘silver and gold’. Be watchful that money would not ruin you. Make all the money you can and use it wisely. Never allow for it to use you. Share it. Give it. You will be the happiest for it.  Have enough so you can give enough. Treasure the ability to change lives.

 

§  The Billionaires Club: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, 50% or more. 99% (486 million) from Warren. Mark Zuckerberg 99%.

 

§  You have made it today, mainly because someone else, other people have been there for you. As others have been there for you, be there for those who need you. Lessons from Mr. Holms: If you are truly appreciative, do the same to someone else.

§  Remember Kuyera. Be there when it needs your support.

 

KUYERA: Remember your alumni. Remember to earn their respect and support. Find a way for healing the past and moving forward. Let us get back to our future!

 

Thank you for this reunion and please build on this great start.

 

DeVon Franklin is famous Hollywood Film Executive who succeeded in his business, celebrating his SDA faith. Lessons for success from Mr. Franklin:

 

Mr. Franklin’s foundational text comes from Proverbs 3:5,6. And this is my message to you.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

 

Trust in the Lord! With all your Hear!

Lean not on your understanding!

In all your ways, acknowledge Him!

He shall direct your Path!

 

DeVon has put his experience in a book that I was able to get when I met him during my recent visit to California. Mr. DeVon was a Keynote speaker and am pleased to bring to you his “secrets”.

 

Here are his most potent advice to all of us:

§  Let the world know that you are a SDA Christian at the

beginning of your career; don’t hide it nor linger too long without making it known;

§  To get where you want to go, you first have to become the person God wants you to be;

§  Accept that God’s will has priority over yours;

§  Commit to the process of success that God has planned for you, no matter how long it takes;

§  God has the authority to put your ambition in check;

§  Let the love of Christ apparent in everything you do;

§  Do not allow sin to reside in any area of your life. If you allow it, you must understand it will limit your ability to receive God’s full blessings, and ultimately, if you let it, will destroy your life;

§  Do everything in your power to bring God’s purpose for your life to fruition (faith without works is dead);

§  Don’t take shortcuts; if you want to be true to your beliefs, then shortcuts do not exist;

§  Remember on the down days, when things look impossible, never give up on yourself and the dreams God has given you.

 

Class AIM:         To put your dreams in your hearts; your hearts in God’s hands

Class MOTTO: Each for the other and all for Christ 

Your dreams are in your hearts; and your hearts in God’s hands. Each for the other and all for Christ!

I commend you for this AIM and MOTTO. Wonderful thoughts expressed in rhyming words. Keep them in your hearts and trust in the Lord.

Class of 2017! In the spirit of this Class Reunion that is taking place here, I encourage you to plan to come back to Kuyera for a class reunion every five or ten years. Come back in 2022 and if not for sure in 2017, to strengthen your Motto: Each for the other and All for Christ!

Graduates! At the end of it all, be a true Christian – a follower of Christ. Let your life count! Make a difference, where ever you may be! Be a good person. Be a happy person. Be a responsible person. Be a person that others like to be around. Be a person that your parents, siblings, friends and most of all Jesus Christ will be very proud of. That is all that matters.

The Rope Demonstration: There is no guarantee on the future; your time is now. Recognize the shortness of time and make use of all your available time now, before it is too late!

 

May the Lord keep and protect you all the days of your life!

 

Amen!

 

Earlier Event: May 4
EAC FOUNDATION DAY (May 4)