Convocation speakers inspire U of T Mississauga graduands

Monday, June 21, 2010 - 1:59pm

About 1,000 students from the University of Toronto Mississauga graduated, degrees in hand, from U of T in early June in three separate convocation ceremonies.

Following are excerpts from the three convocation speakers:

Professor Abdallah Daar of public health sciences and of surgery, U of T; and the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network and U of T, speaking to graduands receiving their Honours Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees:

The very meaning of life is change, and all change, even at the DNA level, is risky. You could spend much time worrying, trying to mitigate risk. You will not always succeed, and if you try to mitigate every risk, you will mitigate the very joy out of life. There will always be black swans. Learn early what's important and what's not, and don't sweat the small stuff. Learn to listen to your inner voice, and if it says take that fork in the road, take it and if that turns out to be wrong, learn from the experience and move on. That inner voice in time will help you distinguish calculated risks from recklessness. 

But first you need to foster that inner voice through sincere reflection. Don't sleep without reflecting on your day's actions and their motives. That inner voice will become your best friend. It may not always seem rational or logical at first, for some of what it says comes from the heart. But it will help to chart your own road in life, allowing you to grow naturally, alone internally, but outside in comradeship, working with others in groups, yet avoiding groupthink. It will become the seat of your passion, your idealism, the font of all your innovations. Without that inner voice there is no real you. So if it means taking a year or two to backpack in the Andes or the Himalayas to discover it that will be time well spent....

In the end, you will ask yourselves if you have led a good life. How will you know? Did you sleep easily at night? Did you make a difference? Were you part of a community? Healthy food, exercise, not smoking will increase your life expectancy to some extent. What will make a bigger difference, though, is having close friends, a loving family, being part of a caring, mutually supportive community that hugs and kisses and creates healthy interdependencies. I love the saying A stranger is a friend I haven't met yet. These are the things that will give you your own ikigai as the Japanese call it - the reason to wake up in the morning; the reason for being.

Robert Fotheringham, senior vice-president, trading, TMX Group, speaking to graduands receiving their Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees:

Today, I would like to tell you about the four things that I've consistently seen to be of tremendous value - and worthy of much respect - in others: good judgement, ethics, vision and passion. The combination of these particular traits is evident in anyone that I truly admire. 

First - Good judgement. Good judgement might sound like it's pretty straightforward and easily done.
I would assert that if that were true, the world would be a much less complicated place and some of the world's biggest challenges: be it pollution and poverty, or economic crises brought about by sub-prime mortgages and unwieldy sovereign debt...would not be so pervasive.

But good judgement, by its very nature, is rather uncomplicated. 

It's really the thoughtful application of common sense and basic logic to situations - no matter how complicated or convoluted those situations may initially seem. Applying good judgement is a great power and it should not be taken as a given...or taken for granted.....

Ethics and integrity are fundamentals that must prevail in all that you do. Even when no one is looking and when it might seem like there's no harm in short-cuts, tricks...or an attempt to cheat the system.
Your personal integrity and ethical behaviour must, and should, be uncompromising. 

Throughout your career you will be faced with strong and unyielding competition from highly intelligent and qualified people. There is no doubt of that. To stand out and apart, when the going gets tough, never hesitate to do the right thing - there is never a good reason to do the wrong thing, even if it seems minor or somehow justified.....

Vision is not just the ability to see what's in front of you - but also to see much further - to see the possibility on the horizon and the path that will get you there. It's not a yellow brick road, not mapped by Google or your GPS, but it can be just as clear....

Vision drives change and advancement in our world....

Passion is the fire and the earnestness that will ensure you reach your destination. 

Passion is more primal in nature and must come from within. It cannot be learned - although you may discover that certain situations will be more likely to fuel the flames in you. It is passion - like vision - that can make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.

Mayor Hazel McCallion, City of Mississauga, honorary degree recipient, speaking to graduands receiving their Honours Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees: 

It has been said that the foundation of every state is the education of its youth and I commend the University of Toronto for educating some of our country's greatest minds since 1827, many of whom have gone abroad to make their contributions. 

The university's record of Nobel laureates and national awards is most impressive and I am proud to be associated with an academic institute of such high standing and to have a university campus in Mississauga. 

I am especially proud to be here today as I grew up during the Depression and going to university was, for me, only a dream....

One thing I have learned from my 43 years of public service is that being an elected official is a big responsibility, but a wonderful opportunity to serve. 

I am reminded of the adage - to whom much is given, much is expected - and I have sincerely tried to do the most with what I have been given for the benefit of the citizens of Mississauga. 

I sincerely believe we all have a purpose in life and I am inspired by the graduates assembled here today who will now go out into the world, well qualified to make a difference.