With a riveting account of his life story, Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne told over three hundred graduates of the Antigua State College on Thursday, that they now possess an education that will help them to carve-out a respected place for themselves in the competitive world that they are about to enter.
“You have also empowered yourselves. For, now you are armed with the best currency, the best passport, the best ticket necessary for the journey of life that lies ahead. You have an education – and a good one. It is the most precious gift that you could have been offered. And, you have been right, smart and astute in grabbing it with both hands,” the country’s leader told the students.
Prime Minister Browne recounted his life story from his childhood, growing up in the poor communities of Gray’s Farm and the Point, suffering from malnutrition, to a near death experience and his successes while attending primary and secondary school and the Antigua State College.
“That child; that malnourished, impoverished, barefooted, illiterate youngster emerged from those many trials. He worked relentlessly to seize and absorb the benefits of Education, including certification in higher education in finance. He rose meteorically to become a senior Bank Manager, a successful entrepreneur, leader of a political party and your Prime Minister today.”
“I tell you this personal story, – not in any boastful way – poverty and deprivation are not conditions for boasting. I tell you this story, not with any sense of conceit because I overcame the obstacles I confronted. I tell you this story because I want you to know that each of us can choose hope over fear. We can see the circumstances of our present, not as an impediment to our future but as an opportunity,” Prime Minister Browne said to thunderous applause from the hundreds assembled at the Pentecostal Church House of Restoration.
Prime Minister Browne also paid tribute to Sir. V.C Bird Sir who had the courage and vision to establish the Antigua State College, told the students that they can shape the future and not let the past dictate what or who they become. He said that they must do so not only for themselves, but for their families and country.
“You are very important to our nation and each one of you should strive to be productive citizens, by positioning yourselves to contribute to nation building; to building an economic powerhouse; to building a prosperous house in which you have a manor. My Government will continue to prepare a place for you. But, you must seize the opportunities in an unrelenting pursuit of success and excellence.”
“Our small country’s history has proven that we have the capacity, the resilience, creativity and innovativeness to be a successful nation. We overcame slavery and oppression, colonialism and repression, abject poverty and exploitation; enforced backwardness and illiteracy to build a modern and growing society. With courage, determination and solidarity – we can raise-up our country and our people even higher. We can collectively transform our Nation into an Economic Powerhouse in the Caribbean. Let us set aside every weight and, with endurance, run the race that is set before us. It is a race we can win! And it is a race we shall win. Failure is not an option,” Prime Minister Browne concluded.