President Sirleaf Challenges University Graduates

Monday, 14th May 2007
Graduates of the Langston University in Oklahoma.
Graduates of the Langston University in Oklahoma.
Photo Credit: Adama B. Thompson/Executive Mansion
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has challenged University graduates to strive for excellence in the pursuit of their goals and avoid the temptation of shortcuts in life. The President said the values of excellence and greatness cannot be cultivated without an uncommon and strong determination to overcome adversities and failures. “Adversity and failure rather than weakening us, must strengthen our resolve to persist and to excel,” the President admonished the students.

According to an Executive Mansion dispatch from Oklahoma City, President Johnson Sirleaf was speaking on Saturday when she delivered the commencement convocation at the 107th graduation program of Langston University.    Reflecting on her experiences of the past, the President cautioned the graduates that excellence and greatness come with a high price, including discipline, commitment and an unwillingness to settle for the mediocre, to settle for the second best and to be confounded and unyielding to challenges or obstacles.

The Liberian leader, however, acknowledged that there are factors or situations that often affect the attainment of excellence and greatness. The factors, she said, include the lack of the means to pursue life’s goals, and considering such lack of means as a permanent condition. The President warned that if individuals give in to their inability to control their impulse, especially the impulse that leads one to engage in habits to retard or stunt growth and fulfillment of ones individual dreams; and if a self-defeating spirit makes one surrender to feelings of fear, loneliness, depression, and despair, because of the confluence of environmental events that make everything seem hopeless and meaningless, excellence and greatness will be an illusion. These factors, the President noted, are only life’s challenges meant to test our will to survive and to succeed. “They should never cause us to give up the challenges of pursuing and achieving excellence and greatness in life,” the President cautioned the graduates, as she spoke on the theme, ‘From Excellence to Greatness.’

To attain excellence and greatness, the Chief Executive pointed out, ‘we must individually and collectively work to positively impact our communities and our society as well as post conflict nations such as Liberia.

Meanwhile, Langston University has conferred on President Johnson Sirleaf an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters. The honor was conferred on the President at Saturday’s Commencement Convocation, during which Langston University President Dr. Jo Ann Haysbert praised the Liberian leader for her exemplary leadership qualities, which should serve as an inspiration to all women aspiring for excellence and greatness.  Dr. Jo Ann Haysbert is the first female President of Langston.