‘Set your sights and go for it’
Former Regiment Commanding Officer Brian Gonsalves last night exhorted the latest crop of Mount Saint Agnes graduates to take ownership of their lives, their community and live their passions.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Bermuda’s only Roman Catholic school, Col Gonsalves told the 34 graduates that they were well equipped to enter life’s next chapter.
“You know how to study hard — well, OK, maybe that’s a stretch but let’s just pretend you do, for your parents’ peace of mind,” he joked. “ You know how to multi-task, to be organised, to prioritise and to find the right balance between work and play.
“Don’t lose these skills, keep them close and put them to good use so that you can be an active, involved and productive student at your college, not just in terms of academics but also in terms of extra-curricular activities.
“College is where you can get involved purely for the ’love of it’, not because you need to build your resume. For those who are not attending college but will be joining the workforce, all of what I said still applies.“
Quoting from former US Secretary of State General Colin Powell’s “18 Lessons in Leadership” Col Gonsalves urged the graduates to take risks
“Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. Yes, you might embarrass yourself. Yes, you might lose that race. Yes, you might fail that final exam, but remember every failed experiment brings you one step closer to success. It’s what you learn from your failure that makes the difference.
“So as long as it’s legal, try everything at least once to figure out what really makes you tick. Or, as we say in the military, ‘set your sights’ and go for it.”
And he spoke about his selection for a six-month tour of duty in Sierra Leone to help train the army following a civil war.
“It was an incredible honour to be given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it was a chance for me to experience a truly different world and culture. I wasn’t at all prepared for the poverty, destruction and sheer lack of human compassion portrayed by many in that area.
“Make no mistake, life is cheap in some parts of this world. I have a whole new appreciation for my life, home and family here in Bermuda.”
He said: “Military people always train for the unknown, the ‘what ifs’.
“None of us have a crystal ball to be able to predict the future, so we need to think ahead, anticipate as best we can and be prepared to readjust our strategy and our actions in order to achieve success.
“Some of you already have your plan all mapped out — you’re going to be a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer; you know exactly what courses you have to take and how long it will take to receive your qualifications. You may even have internships or part-time jobs already lined up to gain extra credit and experience while in college. But some of you, perhaps many of you, don’t have a plan quite yet, and that’s OK. You can still be in control of your destiny and you can still map out your future — just do it in pencil.”