The Government of the Republic of Nauru

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USP Chancellor’s Graduation Address

Republic of Nauru

Office of the President


His Excellency, Lionel Rouwen Aingimea, MP


Minister for Education

Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific


Wednesday, 21 April, 2021


USP Chancellor's Graduation Address



Dear Graduands,


I am deeply disheartened to hear that the University of the South Pacific Graduations (USP) in Laucala have once again been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is, however, vital that you all follow the advice of the Fiji Government that is trying to combat this global disease.  I am praying that you will all remain safe and please take heed of USP and official warnings from the Government.


I had intended to be able to at least join you virtually for this year's graduation with our High Commissioner in Suva handing out the parchments on my behalf.  Nevertheless, I would like to share my thoughts with you on this momentous occasion.  Our students are our key stakeholders and also our future resource for the entire Pacific region.  It is after all because of you that we operate as the premier regional university.


Graduation ceremonies are the most significant and meaningful part of the University's annual calendar and one that everyone associated with USP are keen to observe.  They are aimed at recognising the hard work that you have undertaken and the hardship you have endured over several years of study.  Equally, it is an important time for you to thank your parents, partners, families, employers and mentors for their commitment and support.


As an alumnus of the University of the South Pacific, I am particularly proud to share your delight and joy on this auspicious occasion.  I have fond and vivid memories of my own USP graduation, and it is an experience that I will cherish forever.


A USP education is truly transformative.  It opens doors that one would never expect.  I believe I have a unique perspective to share with you.  Not only was I a student at this great regional institution, I was also an academic teaching in the School of Law, and today, I feel deeply privileged to be serving as your Chancellor.


Universities are unique institutions and places of transformation where lives are changed, and futures are forged.  Personally, for me, God and my education laid the foundations of who I am today.  As a strong believer of values-led education, my ethics and value system have taken me to the pinnacle of my career as a Head of State and the President of the Republic of Nauru. 


A USP education is valuable for creating opportunities.  A university is the place to test ideas and pursue truth.  It is also where academic freedom is fundamental to the freedom of expression and human rights.  These are ideas that I have advocated throughout my life.  Above all else, in the Pacific it is about empowering the building of communities beyond your own borders and for changing the future of the Pacific.  I have no doubt that there is amongst you today, the next set of Pacific leaders will be found.


For me, my greatest task and greatest reward is how to serve the people of Nauru and to make a difference to the entire region.  It was precisely that vision that the forefathers of USP had in establishing our regional university.


As a former USP academic, I am deeply conscious that the backbone of your success is the quality and dedication of academics.  I would very much like to thank all the staff of USP who have relentlessly worked in the face of grave adversity during the last year to ensure that you, the graduands, can obtain a quality education and graduate.  I would also like to thank the Senior Management Team for continuing to provide leadership at this particular juncture.


As Chancellor, I have had to work through some of the most trying times that USP has faced in its history.  Equally, I have been determined to protect our beloved institution and have fought hard to champion good governance and show leadership particularly at a time when the very future of USP is at stake.


As a leader in the Pacific, I am often reminded of the powerful USP alumni networks of skilled people who have done so much to develop and strengthen research, embraced globalisation, and most vividly through the COVID-19 pandemic, shown the true spirit of resilience.  These are the great strengths that will carry forward with you.  Remember that this might be the end of a single journey but equally it is the beginning of another -the journey of life.


New beginnings often are full of new promises and opportunities and you now carry the torch of a USP alumnus which empowers you to be ambassadors of USP and role models in your places of work, your communities and respective countries.


I urge you to live and uphold a sense of high integrity and moral values and to go and make the unthinkable real.  You have great history behind you and the Pacific needs you to aim high so that we can solve tomorrow's intractable problems easily in our own Pacific way.


Be grateful for God, your families and staff, the mentors who have sacrificed so much to get you here today.  Go forth in the world as a better person ready to serve your communities and countries. That is the power of your education.


I wish everyone well in your endeavours and hope that you will excel in your chosen paths.  I hope you champion the sentiments of the Nobel laureate, Antole France who said, "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe".


Once again, to the graduands, my heartiest congratulations and best wishes for the next phase of your lives.


Thank you very much.




Note to Editors: This address would have been delivered live via virtual means on the graduation days scheduled for 22 and 23 April, 2021. However, due to COVID-19 developments in Fiji, the graduation ceremony and other major events in Fiji in the next 14 days have been cancelled by the Fiji Government through an announcement made on Monday 19 April, by Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.


The certificates and diplomas will be distributed to students by the USPs Student Administrative Services (SAS).