Wheelock College held its tradition of two separate commencement programs—a morning ceremony for undergraduates and an afternoon ceremony for graduate students.Other honorary PhD recipients at the Undergraduate Ceremony were Lawrence O’Donnell and Dr. Tiziana Filippini.
The three recipients were recognized because they embodied the spirit of the undergraduate and graduate Commencement theme “Advancing Social Justice and Education around the World.”
Banda was Keynote Speaker at Undergraduate Commencement Speaker ceremony while MSNBC Host and education activist O’ Donnell served as Commencement Speaker.
In her speech, Banda told the graduates that she was an African woman, a mother, a grandmother, but also a leader.
“I’ve taken many roles—businesswoman, politician, Head of State, Member of Parliament and cabinet minister. I’ve been Foreign Minister, Vice President and President. Through all these roles, I have had the opportunity to be an agent for change. I want you to know that I didn’t do it in a day. It’s been a journey of 40 years,” she said.
She advised the young graduates that as they graduate, it was a celebration of years of hard work. Banda told her story of growing up in a small village in Malawi.
JB said her childhood best friend who, though “brighter than me,” was unable to raise the enough money to continue in primary school and was forced to drop out.
“The friend married at age 15 and had a child; that first child recently died of AIDS,” she said adding. She was able to attend the best schools and eventually rose to become President of Malawi.
“That is how unfair the world is. I got angry then; I used that anger throughout my life to send as many girls to school so they don’t end up like my best friend,” she said, adding that she believedthe future depends on empowering women, both in the household and at work.
She commended the graduates for choosing Wheelock, whose mission is to improve the lives of children and families.
“Choose to be extraordinary. Choose to lead an extraordinary life. It is a choice. Let me assure you that most of those plans will fail. But it’s not the failure that’s important, but the choice you make,” said Malawi’s former President.
On Thursday, May 14, Banda attended the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ (EWEC) Senior Leaders Retreatto transition the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health for the Post-2015 Era’in New York. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Banda alongside other 50 global leaders in maternal health.
The (EWEC) movement has galvanized action catalyzing unprecedented progress in reducing maternal and child mortality worldwide. EWEC has helped to strengthen political commitment at the highest-levels, mobilize resources, focus attention, consolidate efforts and bring people together to build a global movement.
In his remarks, the UN Secretary-General Ki-moon observed that the leaders “were a diverse group, but with one common bond”.
“We all believe in a world where every woman, child and young person can not only survive, but thrive. We have a unified vision to end all preventable maternal, newborn, child and adolescent deaths. We have a passion to improve the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents within a generation,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :