“Your Attitude, Not Your Aptitude Will Determine Your Altitude” President Sirleaf Challenges Graduates of David A. Straz Technical-Vocational College

Tuesday, 13th December 2016

Photo Credit:

Monrovia, Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has challenged graduates of the David A. Straz Technical and Vocational College to exhibit good  moral behavior as they move in the job market, adding: “Your attitude, not your aptitude will determine your altitude.”

The Liberian leader lauded the administration of the University of Liberia for its continued dedication to ensuring higher education across the country is prioritized. She commended UL President, Dr. Emmett A. Dennis, lecturers, professors, the faculty senate, Ambassador David A. Straz, students and authorities of the Sinje Technical and Vocational College as well as parents for their individual and collective roles played in making the institution viable for conducive learning.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the statement Monday, December 12, 2016, in Sinje Garwular District, Grand Cape Mount County when she participated in the first graduation exercises of the David A. Straz Technical and Vocational College 2016 Commencement. She expressed delight over the level of improvement at the University and commended traditional leaders for providing the land on which the college is built.   

President Sirleaf recounted how difficult things were prior to the appointment of Dr. Dennis in 2009 noting: “At that time, the institution had only 15 Masters and couple of PhDs - in addition to other limitations of the institution.” The Liberian leader said with the humanitarian intervention of Ambassador Straz - since the reopening of the College in 2012, now offering Associate Degree in Liberal Arts, the commitment of Dean John Sulle, amid support of the faculty senate, students and parents alike have been working together closely - to improve learning activities as is the case on the Main campus of the University of Liberia.

President Sirleaf used the occasion to commend the people of Sinje Town, Garwular District, Grand Cape Mount County for the level of support given their children and for increasing the initial 500 acres of land offered for use by college to 1,000.

Also speaking at the graduation ceremony was Dr. Emmett A. Dennis. He recalled that long before accepting his appointment, as President of the University, he visited Liberia in 2007 to participate in the commencement convocation of Cuttington University in Suakoko, Bong County. According to Dr. Dennis, while enroute to the ceremony, he came to the realization that lot of children were roaming all over the country – and not in schools, something he described as discouraging.

However, Dr. Dennis said upon his return to the country in 2009 to take up assignment as President of the University, he was shocked to have seen too many children, particularly so many girl children most times in their uniforms going to schools across the country, which he credited to the concern of President Sirleaf to see young people of this country especially, girls become educated.

Dr. Dennis who referred to the 36 graduates from the David A. Straz Sinje Technical College as ‘Historic Graduating Class, praised the graduates for doing well in their educational sojourn. Dr. Dennis also commended the Dean of the College, Dr. John Sellue and staff for taking very good care of the Sinje Technical and Vocational College and Mr. David A. Straz for bringing light in the area through the renovation of the facility, something which he said will certainly enlighten the Western Region of Liberia.

Delivering the Commencement Convocation, Ambassador David A. Straz, a Philanthropist - said the institution was no longer about whatever ‘helping hand’ he gave in the renovation process, it was no longer about him rather the Western Regional counties of Bomi, Cape Mount and Gbapolu. Ambassador Straz congratulated the graduates for their achievements, saying: “Your education should open doors for you and create jobs for others around you.”

He said he sees a promising future for Liberia and promised to support the growth of the institution because the high enrollment in the school and the huge turnout of students wanting to enter the College are testimonies to the important work that is taking place in Sinje.  Ambassador Straz praised President Sirleaf for encouraging and inspiring him during many of his visits to Liberia regarding education.

Both President Sirleaf and Ambassador Straz were gowned by the University of Liberia administration for what the institution referred to as her farsightedness in establishing the Sinje College, her quest to decentralize higher institutions of learning amid Ambassador Straz’s humanitarian support.  

The Sinje Technical and Vocational College was established by the Government of Liberia, with initial assistance from the Straz Foundation, USA. 1,000 acres of land from five communities was secured in Sinjie, Laagor, Gonh, Manivalor and Konoma in Garwular District for the institution. So far, some 35 acres of land have been used for infrastructure and agricultural projects. The college was established to cater to the diverse educational needs of the rural counties of the Western Region of Liberia. The college was dedicated on July 23, 2012, by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and academic activities started on October 29, 2012.

The main focus of the college is to provide quality, affordable academic and technical programs, leading to the award of Associate of Arts Degree in Agriculture, Education, and Engineering Technology for a period ranging from 24 - 36 months. 36 graduates were awarded certificates in Primary Education and Agriculture; (6 in Agriculture and 30 specialized in Primary Education).