Addressing the 2018 Graduating Class of his alma mater, St. Augustine’s College, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis who struggled financially to attend school personally donated $10,000 for students who might be experiencing the same challenges. And, his Cabinet colleagues followed suit and matched his donation making it a total of $20,000 donated to pay school fees for those struggling students. The 2018 Class of about 115 students received their high school diplomas and special awards during graduation exercises held at Melia Nassau Beach resort Independence Ballroom on Thursday, June 14. Also in attendance and assisting with handing out the awards was SAC alumnus the Hon. Jeff Lloyd, Minister of Education, who beamed with pride as his daughter Sanjay Maria, became a SAC alumnus. Before a packed room of family members and other well-wishers, the Prime Minister delivered his address to the graduates, recalling his financial struggle to pay school fees and the unlikelihood of becoming a doctor, or a politician or even a Prime Minister.
He also noted that the school’s vice principal Benedict Dorsett and Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder were part of his 1971 graduating class. “I know that the Archbishop never imagined in those years that he would be the first Bahamian Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese,” the Prime Minister said. He deemed it “a special privilege” to address the Graduating Class of 2018. The Prime Minister told his story of humble beginnings in Bain Town and that he never dreamed he would enter politics. “If anybody told me back then that I would run for the House of Assembly, or become a Cabinet Minister, I would have told them that they needed to get their head checked. “And if anybody told me that I would one day have the privilege of serving as Prime Minister, I would have been the one laughing the hardest,” he said As a young boy he said his mother taught him that just because you come from a modest background doesn’t mean you can’t have big dreams or explore new horizons. He recalled that when he was accepted to attend SAC, she was overjoyed. He said they did not have money to pay school fees so he worked as a paperboy, in a tailor shop, would shine shoes, pump gas and do other small jobs to make money. “Although I worked hard and saved up to help pay my school fees, we didn’t always have enough money. The funds I earned were insufficient to cover costs. Even today, I recall times I would be sent home because we couldn’t pay the school fees,” the Prime Minister said.
However, he said, his circumstances motivated him to work even harder to graduate from SAC. “I was determined that I would not allow my circumstances to dictate my destiny. I learned early in life that when you dream big, you also have to work hard.” The Prime Minister said attending St. Augustine’s remains one of the greater privileges of his life; and he gave honor to the Benedictine monks and the late Deacon Leviticus Adderley, who was one of the most principled men he’s ever met, he said. When he graduated high school, he said his ambition was to be a marine biologist, having a love for the ocean and the marine life of The Bahamas. “While I was waiting to be accepted into a program to study marine biology, my mother suggested that I also apply to medical school at the University of the West Indies (UWI). Because I heard from UWI first, I went to medical school,” he said. Subsequently, the Prime Minister became an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and said God has “gifted me to practice my craft well, having delivered over 5,000 babies.”
He reached the pinnacle of his medical career in 2007 when he consciously made the decision to enter frontline politics. “That is why when I heard of your theme, ‘Exploring New Horizons,’ I embraced the opportunity to address you,” the Prime Minister said. He admonished the graduates that in their pursuit of personal dreams and serving humanity to explore new horizons by asking questions such as “Why can’t The Bahamas become one of the most successful small countries in the world?” He thanked God for blessing him with the opportunity to serve “our great country” as Prime Minister, to help provide this generation with the opportunities and the tools they need to respond to these questions with imagination and ingenuity. “I ask you to use your imagination to help the world and your country to explore new horizons with courage and tenacity.” In this vein, he personally donated $10,000 to help some of those students who sometimes struggle to pay their school fees. “I wish to dedicate my contribution to those students who are financially challenged, who need a little help so that they can pursue their dreams in life. When I mentioned that I was going to offer this donation, some of my other Cabinet colleagues decided to match the donation. So, I would like to announce an additional $10,000 donation, offered by my colleagues. Thank you Cabinet colleagues.”