Education: ‘To persevere is to win’

A speech given by Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo, the Ogun State Commissioner of Agriculture, who was the guest speaker at the 2016 Speech and Prize Giving Day in Olashore International School.

Good morning. It is a great honour to be in your midst today.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela


Olashore International School is one of the leading and respected educational institutions in Nigeria.

In the last two decades, this renowned and accomplished school has lived up to its motto which promotes the virtues of honesty, service and honour. You have a great mix of seasoned administrators and very skilled and experienced teachers. This school is a great institution that believes that every child and youth should have the access to quality education that highlights their individual capabilities and gives them opportunities to show and apply the knowledge and skills acquired in a changing world.

Today is your Speech & Prize Giving Day. A day set aside to honour deserving students who have worked very hard to distinguish themselves in academics and in other aspects of their student lives. Congratulations to all that will be recognised for their various achievements.

I remember how I felt, waiting to receive a prize in high school many years ago. That day was also my graduation. That morning I felt liberated, excited, happy and hopeful for a very bright future. I felt like a new phase of my life had just begun. I felt I could take on any challenge, like I could take on the world. It really felt great to be receiving a prize in the presence of my parents. My parents were so proud of me. My friends and I went into the hall feeling confident, and excited about what we had achieved. We were happy to be done with high school but we also knew we would miss each other.

In life, you keep moving from one phase to the next. From high school, you will move into the world to discover the truths, the triumphs and the challenges that exist beyond these walls. You will move into a very competitive world that will make significant demands on your resilience and ability to overcome obstacles and challenges. Your ability to apply those virtues, skills and knowledge gained during these formative years will be put to test. You will push hard and will sometimes experience setbacks. You will wonder why things happen the way they do.

Let me tell you a story. When I was at school, I was very energetic – I still am by the way.  I was part of the music club and the school’s debating society. During one of our inter-school competitions, fifteen minutes to the start time, our top debater unexpectedly had to drop out. Our club teacher was disorganized, so we realized we would have to be in charge of sorting out a replacement immediately.

The other students were nervous about the change in plan, and no one stepped up to take her place. Suddenly, the teacher called me up and nominated me to take on the lead position. I agreed, although I hadn’t been prepared for this role before the competition. But it was a responsibility, and I had to take on. I only had about 15 minutes to get ready for the competition. I was confused. I felt like running away but then I remembered what my mother always told me ‘You should never be a quitter even in the face of challenges’.  The club teacher encouraged me and reminded me of my strengths. I took a deep breath and ran through my lines. We won that debate. It was a land slide victory. I spoke like I have never spoken before in my life. It was a fantastic moment for me, my club and the school. I made everyone proud.

My message to you today is the importance of perseverance. Simply put, to persevere is to win. Perseverance means doing something despite difficulties or delays in achieving success. Perseverance is persistence, tenacity, determination, resolve, resolution, purposefulness and firmness of purpose. Perseverance is staying focused on your goal regardless of distractions and setbacks that might be in your way.

You might be wondering what you should do when you experience challenges, distractions and setbacks. In truth, as you grow the challenges you will face in life will be different from those that you have always known. When you go into the university after high school, you will have to adjust to significant changes: you might live far away from your parents, you will have to manage your own finances. You will make friends and make decisions for yourself. You will also have grades and personal growth to deal with. All of this will happen, but remember you must preserve to the end. You should never give up.

How do I achieve this you might ask? First you must set your own goals. Ask yourself – What do I want to achieve? Do I want to be top of the class, get a first class degree, become an engineer, an astronaut or, an accomplished doctor, a journalist etc.. Then you must ask again, what must I do to achieve this? Well firstly, you need good grades.

With an end goal in sight, you must vigilant in ensuring you stay on track to success. It is very challenging to go into the next phase of your lives without well-defined goals and a good understanding to how to achieve these goals. Luckily, you have your parents, teachers and other role models to help you make decisions and guide you. And when you make mistakes, contact these role models for directions and do not give up. Do not feel defeated or proud. Get up, dust yourself and continue your journey. You must try and try and try again. You should never give up until victory or success is achieved.

Now, remember, you have to create a good balance between achieving your academic goals and other aspects of your life that are equally important. Working towards success in academics and your career doesn’t mean you won’t have a social life. It doesn’t mean compromising on your spirituality or seeing less of your friends. Not at all. It means that you should do the right things at the right time and at the right place. When it’s time to study, don’t head off to a party or play when it is time to pray or rest. Be organized with your time and stay healthy. Always remember God and your prayers. God is the giver of all good things. You must remain thankful and obedient to him. The Word of God is the truth. Advancements in technology mean that we are now better informed and more connected to each-other than ever before. This is a blessing, use the internet as tool to expand your horizons, learn, created and explore. But don’t forget the importance of the real and valuable connections you have with each other.

Be mindful of peer pressure. You will come across chances to try out a lot of new things. Always ask yourself – Will this lead me to my goal? If it won’t, reconsider. Develop the courage to stand by your principles, to rely and trust upon your own beliefs. Steve Jobs once said ‘Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown out your inner voice’.

To the prize winners, there is more to be done. Keep up the good work. Continue to excel in your academics. I urge all of you here to keep working hard to achieve great success. To the rest of you, keep striving and working hard. I wish you all good luck in your endeavours.

In closing, I urge all of you to remain steadfast in your pursuit of success. To the teachers and the school management, I say very big congratulations for the job well done. With this trend of great milestones being achieved, Olashore International School will continue to develop the leaders we need in Nigeria and in the world.

Thank you.

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