BIMS Graduation Highlighted by Student Speaker, Singer
Posted May 22, 2017
The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) 277 graduates were treated to
inspiring words by a classmate and entertained by another classmate
during their commencement exercises on May 11, at Reed Arena.
Joel White—Aggie graduate, a Singing Cadets alumnus, and son of
professor & Tom and Joan Read Chair in Veterinary Surgery in
the Department of Small Animal Clinical Services Sharon
Kerwin—opened the ceremony with a beautiful rendition of the
National Anthem. Kerwin will attend veterinary school in the CVM
beginning this fall.
Class speaker Francis Mtuke offered a reminder to the 258
biomedical sciences and 19 university studies with a veterinary
medicine concentration degree candidates of the journey they have
made and the one yet to come as he shared his personal story.
“I am not one to usually get too overwhelmed with emotion, but
as I look out at my fellow classmates, I am reminded that I—like
many of you—am not supposed to be here,” Mtuke said.
A native of Africa, Mtuke recounted the chance taken by his
mother—a woman humble in both attitude and size, standing at 5’2”
tall—in leaving their small Zimbabwe home nearly 20 years ago and
venturing to America.
Dr. Elizabeth Crouch and Joel White
“She took a chance in order to realize the dreams that she had
for a 3-year-old boy she called her own,” Mtuke said. “This
9,000-mile leap of faith lead her on a path which would see her
advance from working as a nanny, to the fast food circuit, all
while progressing toward a nursing degree, a degree she would
attain and which would set ablaze a fire inside that boy to reach
for his own dreams—a fire which I have been fortunate enough to see
time and time again in the eyes of the graduates that fill the very
seats of this arena.
“She shared with me not only unquantifiable love, but she also
shared with me an underlying faith in the possibilities of this
country and, four years ago, in the possibilities of this
university,” he continued.
As graduates, their A&M experiences—accentuated by “the most
inspirational and influential people” the students “have had the
privilege to meet”—will carry forth in the possibilities of the new
journeys that lie ahead, Mtuke said.
“For those of you who are uncertain about your job prospects
moving forward, let me be the first to tell you that you are in
high demand; in fact, you could be employed as early as tomorrow,”
he said. “Thanks to the Texas A&M experience, we leave here
tonight as leaders and journey out to a world in that is in dire
need of just that.”
He also reminded his peers that their duty as Aggie alumni
include representing the Texas A&M virtues and serving as
life-long ambassadors of the university. They can do that, he said,
by dreaming big.
“Fear will undoubtedly be a player in each and every one of our
lives, but, fortunately, we have the ability to decide how much. So
do not disguise fear beneath the veil of practicality. And do not
seek to avoid failure, but rather seek to attain victory. Do not
downgrade your dreams to match your reality, but, instead, upgrade
your belief to match your vision,” Mtuke said. “Inspire others
through your effort and let your choices reflect your hopes and not
your fears. Some of your biggest accomplishments will come without
glory and recognition, so seek rather to be of value than to simply
be successful. And above all else, maintain positivity.”
His speech touched not only his peers and their guests but also
the faculty and administration.
“Francis represented the CVM so beautifully with his words and
heart,” said Elizabeth Crouch, CVM assistant dean of undergraduate
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