Nigerian Lady Graduates As Overall Best In Rutgers University

While presenting the valedictory speech on behalf of the 2017 graduating set, she revealed her education was sponsored by community aid, and at such titled her valedictory speech “Half of the story is yet to be told”.

“I am saying this with all passion because I am a product of community aid. As a little girl who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria in Africa, I was born into the adventure of uncertainty and the grandeur of unrealistic aspirations of a low-income home in a gender-biased society.

“Although my father knew the importance of education, he could not afford to give all his children equal educational opportunity. My education was put on hold for my brother’s, while I searched for alternative means of survival.

“I persisted! I am fortunate to be here amongst you through scholarships, which would have been impossible if the community didn’t give back.

“In light of this, permit me to seize this opportunity to acknowledge the incredible support and help I got from my family, mentors and teachers.

“I honestly wish I could say all their names, but we would be here the whole day and am sure you wouldn’t want that. My deepest gratitude goes to my parents, my husband and my children. This is your moment, too. I wouldn’t be on this stage without your help, love and support.”

Below is the text of her Valedictory speech.

Half of the story is yet to be told

I must confess that I did not have a full understanding of Rutgers University-Newark’s diversity & community until I became the diversity I wanted to see. Rutgers-Newark is known nationally as the most diverse university. I asked myself, “What does that really mean?” What does it mean to me as a person of color, a female & as a Muslim? What does it mean to the LGBTQ community? What does it mean to you?

Well, it’s not possible for me to know all of you. Neither is it possible for you to know all of me. However, I know one thing for sure – what you stand for because you chose this university. Indeed RU-N has enabled not just me, but all of us to actualize a part of our dream, to create a story of intellectualism through diligence and hard work in order to be in these chairs today. However, that is only half of our story.

True, the year 2017 has seen a political controversy for sure, but Rutgers Newark rose above all polarization. The day Rutgers and NJIT gathered to protest against the Muslim ban, I marveled on how we gathered to strengthen the bond of our existence. We acknowledged the need to look out for one another in such unifying camaraderie because we recognized the importance and benefits of diversity. In the face of this political acrimony, Rutgers – Newark reminds us about the fabric of this great nation – DIVERSITY. This is possible because this community welcomes everybody; and transforms every story and dreams into reality.

Let us all keep in mind as we move forward into the next phase of our lives not to settle for mediocrity because ‘to whom much is given much is expected.’ When I see the likes of Elizabeth Warren, who fearlessly continues to be the face of American resistance through trying times, I ask you all, just like I ask myself, ‘WHAT CAN’T YOU DO?’

I personally believe that quality education is a navigation tool that enables dreams to become reality. Yet, at the same time, it is a baton passed unto each and every one of us to make a difference in the world, to develop a cause, to be able to fight for a passion, because this is how change can be revolutionary. Do not just stand to be counted, but stand to be heard!

I am saying this not because it feels good or because it is the right thing to say. I am saying this with all passion because I am a product of community aid. As a little girl who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria in Africa, I was born into the adventure of uncertainty and the grandeur of unrealistic aspirations of a low-income home in a gender-biased society. Although my father knew the importance of education, he could not afford to give all his children equal educational opportunity. My education was put on hold for my brother’s, while I searched for alternative means of survival. I persisted! I am fortunate to be here amongst you through scholarships, which would have been impossible if the community didn’t give back. In light of this, permit me to seize this opportunity to acknowledge the incredible support and help I got from my family, mentors and teachers. I honestly wish I could say all their names, but we would be here the whole day and am sure you wouldn’t want that. My deepest gratitude goes to my parents, my husband and my children. This is your moment, too. I wouldn’t be on this stage without your help, love and support. THANK YOU.

To my professors, my mentors, managers, and friends, you all should take pride in this moment because you were my pillars and inspirations. You first believed in me, before I even started to believe in myself. How can I THANK YOU all enough? There is so much I want to say to you but for now, I will just say THANK YOU! 

Finally, I say to you, mates – remember not to forget your dreams and aspirations. Most importantly, remember not to forget to leave your mark in the sand of time by blazing your own trail.

Do not just fit in – stand out.

Invent.

Give back.

Get involved.

Volunteer.

Go out there and write the rest of your story.

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