On February 4th, I served as the Alumni Host for a University of Toronto alumni and student recruitment event held at the Terra Nova Hotel. It was such an invigorating experience.
In my short talk, I reflected on what Garvey said about education. That to be educated is ‘To be learned in all that is worthwhile knowing.’ This is far more than what you are going to learn in the classroom. It is about what you are going to learn about yourself from being challenged intellectually, from living in a new environment and from those that are there with you.
As a I looked at invited alumni, I saw a number of professionals who have made significant contributions to Jamaica in business, academia, engineering and medicine just to name a few areas. There is a common thread that connects all the generations. It is a time of personal self discovery and growth. A time when you are asking questions about where you want to go in life. And studying at a university consistently rated by the Times Higher Education Ranking as one of the best in the world (9th in 2009) played a pivotal role in their development.
Mr. Jerome Poon-Ting, Assistant Registrar at the UofT Scarborough Campus was the university’s representative. His hard work was indispensable to the success of the event. For their part, other alumni talked of the rigour of their training, their lifelong friendships and how their UofT experience changed them beyond they skills they are able to deploy in their careers. We got to learn about playing in the Lady Godiva Memorial Band and I told of the great Snowpocolypse of 2008, the fact that I apparently survived and seem to be quite ok.
My view is that alumni are a bridge to the future for other students. Most of the challenges that they are going to face, we have faced. So neither students or alumni should be reticent in asking for and offering advice.