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Arise, ‘Sir Richard’, a graduate for the ages

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Richard Powell, 71 is the oldest graduating member of the Bermuda College’s class of 2015 (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

Richard Powell become the oldest graduate in Bermuda College’s 40-year history yesterday — at the age of 71.

Mr Powell successfully completed a Diploma in Culinary Arts and celebrated, along with his peers, at a special ceremony.

Affectionately named “Sir Richard” by fellow students, he told The Royal Gazette: “I was living in the States for 14 years. My wife was a pastor in the AME church at the time and I didn’t have much to do here so I thought about a new career. “I got a lot of encouragement from my daughter who is a chef.She said ‘go ahead, they will take you’. I was apprehensive — I thought about it over the summer and then finally I decided to do it. The rest is history.

“It has become more than about cooking because I have built relationships with many young people. I have had an influence on young people and even the faculty members have really applauded me for what I wanted to do.

“I had apprehensions, sure. Whether I could make it through and whether I could work in one of the most intense fields. And after doing my internship at La Trattoria I thought, ‘this is no problem at all’.”

Mr Powell is now planning to embark on a career as a chef and says he will work for as long as he can.

Asked what advice he would give to other mature students wishing to join the college, the former training officer and taxi driver said: “Come along — you get the help, you get the support and it is a beautiful experience.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Tannock, Bermuda College alum and president of XL Insurance (Bermuda), was the guest speaker at the event, which was attended by dignitaries, educators and 129 new graduates.

Mr Tannock’s message was that Bermuda must be willing to move with the times and remain relevant in an era of change.

He told the audience gathered on the college field: “I would like to challenge every single person here today to make a lifelong commitment to constantly upgrade your skill sets and to make sure that they are relevant and current.

“If we are going to stay relevant and have any chance of competing in this economy, we must be prepared.

“Innovation constantly drives change and new economic orders quickly replace existing economic orders. ‘Bermuda is Another World’ has become our de facto national anthem, the tourists like it and I am cool with that.

“But in today’s context we must evolve to become another world in terms of our innovation capabilities and our service and execution excellence.

“The fact of the matter is, Bermuda is not another world. We are very much part of the global village and what happens there has implications. These are challenging times and Bermudians are hurting in ways that we could never have imagined in our lifetime but as tough as it is I am absolutely confident we can get through this.”

Also, a moment’s silence was held for one student, Randall Thaddeus Richardson, who passed away and whose degree was collected posthumously.

The college is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and has held a number of events in recognition of the milestone.

College president Duranda Greene said: “This is a special year for Bermuda College as we have been celebrating 40 years of setting Bermuda’s students on the path to success.

“The theme is Forty Years and Forging Forward. You will soon enjoy the ranks of the likes of Mr Patrick Tannock, our guest speaker today, who have gone on to prove the work of the great foundation that Bermuda College provides. Class of 2015, like Bermuda College, you, too, must forge forward and stay true to your vision.

“Learn well the value of perseverance. Make good choices and don’t shy away from taking calculated risks. Someone once said the only things you will regret in life are the risks that you didn’t take.”

Pandora Clemons, who was featured this week in our Lifestyle section, fulfils her graduation dream (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Smiles were plenty among the graduates from Bermuda College class of 2015 (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Earl Hart was among the fellows attending the commencement ceremony (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)