Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest told the 2019 graduating class of Sunland Baptist Academy that in securing their high school diploma, they have accomplished something which just 46 percent of their peers complete successfully. “Today, I see talented, young Bahamians who will continue the tradition of other Sunland Baptist Academy graduates, who are making meaningful contributions in both the public and private sectors of our nation,” the Minister told the graduates. “This institution has a stellar record. Among your alumni there are teachers, lawyers, doctors, police officers, nurses, accountants and many other skilled professionals. As graduates, you are following in their footsteps and you should always look to their example as a source of inspiration and motivation.”
Drawing attention to the school’s theme for the graduating class – ‘The Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins Today’ – Minister Turnquest said the theme speaks about the choices that will face the students of the graduating class. Choices that were made better because they and their parents have invested in education.The theme, he added, also spoke about the students’ futures. “A future that will be shaped by the opportunities that you seize.” As the graduates ponder their next steps in life, Minister Turnquest threw out some truths for them to consider while making the decision about the future. Firstly, he reminded them that opportunities are not just local, but global. “We live in a global economy that is powered by technology, which means you can live at home and work for clients across the world,” he said.
“Half of the businesses that exist today did not exist more than ten years ago. Companies like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and other technologies that run our lives today, never existed before most of you were born.“Just think about that. It means we live in a dynamic new world and you have the opportunity to shape the way we do things in the future.” Secondly, Minister Turnquest reminded the students that finding work is not only about finding a job. He encouraged them that eventually, they can become their own boss. In fact, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that becoming business owners and entrepreneurs is something which the government encourages with its Small Business Development Centre and BTVI’s ‘be your own boss’ initiative. Thirdly, he encouraged the graduates not to allow the lack of finances the power to kill their dreams or hinder their progress.
“Money is not an excuse,” said Minister Turnquest. “Today, when it comes to vocational education, or entrepreneurship there are more scholarships, grants and investment funding available than ever before. Exhaust all options, pursue all opportunities and be unstoppable. “Lastly, when it comes to opportunity, you get things done with self-discipline, patience and perseverance. The late Ronnie Butler had a song that says ‘everybody wan’ go to Heaven, but nobody want dead.’ That means you have to be willing to put in the work. “Few things happen overnight. Most times, they happen over time, so you have to be willing to put in the work with discipline, patience and perseverance.” Minister Turnquest said that he had no doubt that Sunland’s Class of 2019 will surpass the achievements of previous generations and become a bright light for the students following behind.
Proof of this, he noted, lies in the outstanding athletic and academic success of the graduating class, adding that it speaks volumes of the class’s exemplary and well-rounded talents. He pointed out that the class finished first and second in the Grand Bahama High School Graduate Scholarship competitions; they obtained outstanding performances and achieved accolades in the National Arts Festival and 23 of the students from the 2019 graduating class have already registered and are headed to the University of The Bahamas in the Fall. The Deputy Prime Minister told the graduates that their commencement exercise was the start of a new beginning, a new phase in their lives; one that will determine who and what they become for the rest of their lives. “You now stand prepared, armed with the tools to take on the future and to embrace your young adult life and all the opportunities that it will bring. Grasp this moment and wrestle it to victory and success. “I want you to know that your presence here today is a symbol of your potential; it is a symbol of your hope and it means that you have something to offer your country that can shape the nation for the better.”