Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Management celebrated its graduates on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Convocation ceremonies at #DalhousieU are rich in history and tradition, where each year the Dal community welcomes hundreds of new alumni into our network of over 130,000.
Dr. Oksana Shkurska was chosen to deliver the convocation address to the graduating class of the Faculty of Management, Spring 2019. We are privileged to have Dr. Shkurska share her insights on CEGE Connection.
Dr. Oksana Shkurska
Good morning, President McKinnon, Madame Chancellor, Dalhousie Officials, honoured guests, colleagues, our dear graduates, families and friends. It is a great pleasure and honour to be here today, delivering the Convocation Address. Thank you for inviting me
When I entered the building today, my first thought was: Wow, I can feel the excitement in the air! Delighted graduates, proud parents, happy friends and relatives – we all share in this exhilarating event.
I remember 17 years ago sitting at my convocation ceremony as you are now, listening to the speakers, enjoying the moment, and asking myself a question: what is next?
I had already been hired for a job that I was sure would not make me happy. I dreamed big and my goal was to become a university professor to make a positive difference in my students’ lives, but I had no idea what to do to make this dream come true.
On the day of my convocation, I shared my thoughts with one of my professors. Even now, I am grateful to her for the encouraging words I heard:
“No matter how far your destination is, if you are determined enough to overcome all the obstacles, one day YOU WILL GET THERE.”
Those words changed my life. From that moment, I set a goal and made a commitment to follow my dream.
We all know that life is not only sunshine and rainbows, and unfortunately it is full of failures and disappointments. However, it is not the absence of failures that predetermines our success, but it is our ability to get up and continue to move forward.
Confucius once said: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Just think about it: “our glory is in rising every time we fall”.
When I was a child, I was in love with mountains. What is interesting, however, is that I never saw them in reality. Once I saw a picture of someone standing on the top of the mountain with all those breathtaking views below. You know this feeling, right? I promised myself that one day I would fulfill my dream and reach the top of the mountain. When I was eighteen, I gained an opportunity to hike up the mountain. I was still very young and immature, but you can imagine how excited I was! My dream was going to come true!
However, I didn’t reach the top; I failed. I made three mistakes that prevented me from reaching my goal.
The first mistake was being absolutely unprepared for the hike: my shoes were inappropriate for the rocky path I had to take. Do you know what I was wearing? Can you guess? I was wearing flip-flops, and this is how I hoped to reach the mountaintop!
The second mistake I made was going on a hike without MAPPING OUT my route. I did not break down my route into small doable segments to have a rest and to decide on next steps after each segment. In other words, I did not give myself an opportunity to recharge my batteries and think about the next steps. As a result, I did not have a clear picture of how far I walked, which discouraged me.
The third mistake was not allowing for unpredictable weather changes. When I started to doubt that I should continue my journey, heavy rain and a thunderstorm started. I was not ready for this. I did not have either a raincoat or an umbrella. Just imagine me with an umbrella in the mountains. There was no shelter to protect me. It was really scary! (If you have ever experienced a thunderstorm in mountains, you know how scary it is.) I was extremely disappointed. That’s it, I thought. Never in my life will I do this again! The problem was that I was not ready for weather changes. In fact, I was not ready for any changes at all.
I learned a lot from this failure, however. Now I understand how important it is to be well equipped and prepared for any life journey I take. I also know that I should break my big goal into small doable goals before I start moving towards the big goal I want to achieve. And what is even more important, I know I should always be ready to learn new skills and adapt to any changes in my life, as change is inevitable.
Learning from mistakes is an important part of our growth, so do not let your failures define you. On the contrary, each time you make a mistake, learn from this failure, apply what you have learned to your life, and keep moving forward. Just keep moving forward!
We prepared you to be the leaders of tomorrow. We helped you to develop your skills. But what is even more important, we taught you that a good leader cannot be indifferent to others. A good leader cannot be indifferent to other people’s lives, feelings, and sufferings. These are not just words: each of you is powerful enough to make positive changes in other people’s lives. So, when you achieve your goal, help others to find and achieve their goals as well.
I am happy today to have my dream job that allows me to make a positive difference in your lives. Your success inspires me. Your achievements help me to move forward, and your accomplishments help me to succeed as well. I would like to thank you for this: for all those wonderful moments that I have had with you in class and for the success that you have experienced.
Without you, I would not be here today, and because of you, I learned the most important thing in my life: it is better to give than to receive, and the more you give, the more you will receive.
Those were the most important things I have learned in my life: to succeed in life, be determined to achieve your goal, learn from your failures, and help others to grow.
Wait! There is one more thing!
Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Do not stop until your dream becomes a reality. If you want to have a fulfilling career, go for it, and no matter how far your destination is, never let anyone discourage you and tell you that you will not get there because you WILL get there. Even if it takes you ten years, twenty years, or your whole life, if you really want to reach your destination, eventually you will get there. YOU WILL GET THERE!
Editor’s Note: We invite you to view Dr. Oksana Shkurska’s address on Dalhousie’s 2019 Convocation YouTube video. Her address begins at 1:25:10.