Former University of Otago chancellor John Ward has urged university graduates to "be brave and innovate", to overcome barriers and strive for "realising your potential". Factors such as "health and sheer misfortune" could limit achievements, but he ...
Former University of Otago chancellor John Ward has urged university graduates to "be brave and innovate", to overcome barriers and strive for "realising your potential".
Factors such as "health and sheer misfortune" could limit achievements, but he wished graduates success and that they would "contribute back to society".
"The best performers, in my view, though, understand the real benefits of healthy, balanced lifestyles and vibrant families.".
Mr Ward was commenting in an address to more than 340 Otago commerce and law graduates at the second of two ceremonies at the Dunedin Town Hall on Saturday.
A chartered accountant and Otago commerce graduate, Mr Ward was chancellor for 15 years. He received an honorary doctorate of laws at the ceremony.
Graduates’ backgrounds and campus experiences, including at university residential colleges and in flats, and mixing with students from many countries, had all provided "an outstanding platform from which to launch".
Through their campus experiences, graduates had "made friends for life and established academic credentials", and been helped to become "more tolerant, supporting" as well as more caring and discerning.
He urged graduates to "be brave and innovate, look for opportunities to make positive changes".
Addressing more than 260 graduates, mainly in humanities, at an earlier ceremony, Otago graduate and former Green MP Holly Walker paid tribute to New Zealand’s first woman lawyer, Ethel Benjamin, who enrolled at Otago University 125 years ago.
She had became New Zealand’s first woman lawyer and also the first woman to give "any kind of official speech" at the university, when she gave an official reply on behalf of the graduands.
A former Rhodes Scholar and former editor of student magazine Critic, Ms Walker reflected on the barriers Ethel Benjamin faced and how she overcame them.
When she enrolled in 1893, women were still "not permitted to practise law" and the right to vote was "a few months off being granted, but she took a punt". But she had faith that "a colony so liberal as our own would not long tolerate such artificial barriers".
She showed "cheerful optimism" artificial barriers would fall.
"The trick, of course, is that by refusing to acknowledge those barriers, she played a huge part in ensuring they were removed."
Sometimes such barriers could be "extremely hard to break", and, if "years of expectations and norms" were "crusted on to them", they could "still really hurt when you smash into them".
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