‘All the skills you need to build your country are right here’ – UG’s Valedictorian to President Granger


By Devina Samaroo

Rounds of applause and loud cheers echoed through the auditorium of the National Cultural Centre on Saturday morning. It was the first of two ceremonies of the largest graduating class of the University of Guyana (UG).

International Relations student Elsie Harry, the 25 – year old Valedictorian and aspiring President, delivered a message to the President of Guyana, David Granger during her powerful address to the graduating class.
“You name it, the talent, the know-how, it is all here. President [David] Granger, I hope you’re watching this because all the skills you require to build a sustainable country are right here!” Harry said.

Harry was at the time urging the graduates not to abandon their country. In highlighting the potential of everyone in the room, the Valedictorian disclosed that a student graduating today from the Faculty of Technology designed her mother’s house and restaurant.

A view of some of the graduating Class of 2017 of the University of Guyana.

“He could have easily designed any of the new buildings on campus or around Georgetown. Just like all of the graduates here today, he is exceptional … among the graduates here today, there are young entrepreneurs; web, graphics and fashion designers; chefs; poets; singers; electrical engineers; accountants; and future presidents!” Harry stated as she pointed to herself.


The valedictorian also took a swing at the weaknesses of the country’s prime tertiary educational institution, calling on the administration to do better as she encouraged the graduates against to think more of Guyana.

Harry highlighted that UG has been marked by a general culture of indifference which is compounded by “poor customer service” and a “general sense of malaise” that has plagued the institution.

“I’ve wasted many days because too many people didn’t know where to find what and couldn’t care enough to ask someone who did. This is the highest institution made for our country. If this is not the standard of excellence then what is? New buildings will not transform the University of Guyana, a change in attitude will!”

Vice Chancellor of UG, Ivelaw Griffith

The top student delivered a powerful presentation aimed at arousing a desire within the graduating class, the administration of the university, and all those in attendance, to create their own renaissance and ultimately that of their homeland – Guyana.

“We are replaceable. The void we leave in any place, perhaps except in the hearts of those who love us dearly, can always be filled – just like putting your hands into a bucket of water and removing it.”

She explained that “our service to the world is mirrored in our ability to ensure continuity. We do this when we share our knowledge, share our skills, when we share our vision, when we help others to reach their highest potential, when we have learned to serve, not ourselves, but our communities, our countries, and our humanity. Then, we would have completed our renaissance.”

She urged everyone, regardless of what office they sit in, to live by the principles of courtesy, efficiency, caring and to be colour-blind. “Please, be colour-blind! Do not focus on ethnicity, focus on character and simply offer quality service because it serves your country,” the Valedictorian urged.


Chancellor of UG, Nigel Harris confers a certificate to a graduating student.


Harry will be delivering her valedictorian address again at the second convocation ceremony which is being held at the Sophia Exhibition Centre this afternoon. The Faculties of Agriculture and Forestry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Natural Sciences and Technology graduated this morning.


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