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College graduates salute class of 2016

Standing room only: graduates are all smiles after Bermuda College’s annual Commencement Ceremony (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Hundreds braved the rain yesterday to celebrate the achievements of the Bermuda College graduates of 2016.

There was standing room only in the outside gazebo as students, teachers, parents, friends and dignitaries gathered in recognition of their work.

The Commencement Ceremony was described as an historic occasion as four students became the college’s first to graduate with a high school diploma and associates degree in the same year. This was thanks to the new Dual Enrolment Initiative that was introduced by the late Clarence Maxwell, former principal at Berkeley Institute, and which was developed by the Dean of Arts and Science at the college Necheeka Trott.

Also making history were two female students from the diploma in motor vehicle technology — a field traditionally dominated by men.

Delivering the keynote speech was newly appointed Senator Kim Wilkerson, who urged students to never limit themselves.

She told the audience that lack of expectation can come in three ways.

“Sometimes it is self-limiting belief, sometimes it is our reaction to failure and sometimes it is other people’s perception of us that puts that limitation on us.

“When I talk about self-limiting belief it can be as simple as saying, ‘I am not a morning person’. If you say you are not a morning person you are not going to be a morning person.”

She spoke of another who had told her she would not apply for a scholarship “because black people don’t win those scholarships”.

Ms Wilkerson continued: “I told her that I applied for it and won it. She applied, she won it, and she has had a very successful career.

“People are limited by failure. When we come up on something and it is hard, we reel back our dreams a little bit and try to do something we can actually win at. There is no way to get to the greatness you were born to without experiencing some of it I tell you.

“In primary school, I was the girl who the teacher said was the daydreamer. I was the girl the teacher said talked too much. For a child, who at eight-years-old who was aspiring to be a lawyer and talk for a living, how is it that your teacher can call you too talkative? Maybe that teacher hadn’t bought into my dream.

“I see Gary Phillips sitting there — he was my high schoolteacher and I know he bought into a positive expectation of me and it helped me to become who I am. I was always invested in what I wanted to become and I thank him for it.”

Ms Wilkerson also warned students that the world was changing at a rapid pace and that they would need to be prepared to be flexible.