BUILDING BRIDGES

My Fellow Stars,

It is with profound gratitude to GOD, and to you, my family and friends that I write these words, today. I am overwhelmed by the power of love and community which we have fostered over the years — right from the time we began to countdown to our undergraduate exit from Babcock University. I am assured that every breath we have been gifted with is a reminder that we are gifts to the world to continually shine as stars, wherever we are.

As I go down the rich lanes of history and memory, I am reminded of the values of Babcock University which we were taught to imbibe not for the sake of them alone but that we would be better by them. Such values as accountability and integrity, the power of the truth and hope for a bright future have laid up a fortitude for us even as we continue to shine as the great constellation that we are; such that no matter how far apart we may be, we are united for the course of life.

When I ran for President in 2016, one of the commitments I made was that I would not neglect you all even after graduation from Babcock University. It was a pledge informed by the examples of my predecessors and reinforced by my experiences with each one of you while I served as President in our Senior year where there were indigent students unable to graduate due to outstanding tuition; graduating students uncertain about what the future held; social vices characterized by graduating students and the consequences in the coming years.

These stories reflected the complexity of the mind of an average graduate in/from Nigeria. Hence, institutionalizing an endowment fund in Babcock wasn’t something I did alone but by the culmination of the support of members of my cabinet, volunteers and of course the University administration which birthed about 70 beneficiaries. At a time like this, 2020, I see the impact of that work. I would forever be immensely grateful to these people and to you, for your contributions and support because when one of us rises, we all rise!

In my last letter to you, my fellow stars, I highlighted the need to continually break grounds even as our lights continue to shine-on in our various fields and endeavours. Even though the times are changing, our resolution to be the best should never diminish or waver.

For this course, I celebrate with those of us who have taken giant strides in life and those who are equally taking those steps as you read these words. In no particular order, I celebrate you — my friends — who have gotten married since graduation; I celebrate those of us who are building successful careers with small wins turning to big wins; I celebrate those who are in the search for job satisfaction and I urge you to never lose hope; I celebrate those of us who have gone on to further their education beyond a Bachelors’ degree; I celebrate all those who are equally fighting for great causes and courses across the globe; I celebrate those who are sacrificing their lives for others. We are stronger because of everyone. My deep and sincere prayers are also with the families and friends of those of us who have lost their lives since graduation. I also pray for more of the Almighty’s protection over us all.

Right now, dear stars, the world is faced with an invisible enemy at a formidable front but I write to tell you that we shall overcome just as I believe that we would be overcomers in all our noble endeavours. At such times when our humanity is tested by vices of violence, racism, natural disasters or pandemics, we must always remember the power of GOD and the joys of our humanity as we forge ahead, regardless. This is because on the journey of living a life of purpose and impact, important challenges would be encountered and have to be conquered, opportunities will have to be maximized, and we all have to be encouraged to learn more and do something that adds to the bridge that, together, we are building to the future. When we build bridges, we are ultimately building a community which would grow together and stay together. The events of the past years remind us that as a class, we all have an obligation to look out for one another.

Three years ago today, I delivered the Presidential Address — during our Convocation Ceremony titled “Forge Ahead in the Right Direction with Confidence” — that as stars, we all should see opportunity in the face of adversity. As stars, we are responsible for the future we want. Across the globe, stars should step up to support their friends and colleagues, demonstrating responsibility that we all have to look out for one another; thus, the need to build bridges. This, I believe, will see us through the challenges to come.

Conclusively, I charge you by the mercies of GOD, to not only build bridges but to be bridges. We should not only work on bridges, we should walk on bridges. It is time to connect and be connected with one another — not for selfish reason(s) as many may ill-fatedly perceive and conceive but — for the posterity and growth of every star in this Constellation of the Orion Class 2017 as this is for the Greatness of the Orion Beyond Babcock…Transcending greatness!!!

In service and humility,

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Ifeoluwa Ariyo-Agbaje

Ifeoluwa is one of Africas’ and Nigerias’ iconic model to watch in leadership. He presently serves as the Head of Communications, BIMUN Nigeria.