Address by Ms Jennifer NG Glok-hong,
Principal, Community College of City University
Chairman, Honoured Guests, Graduates and Colleagues:
It is always a pleasure for me to come and see the happiness on the faces of our graduates. The young people in this hall gave us the impetus to be at our best. And I hope our College has been at our best in providing you with an opportunity that you might otherwise not have. For many of you it was a trying time when you entered this College. It would not be far off the mark to say that most of you were rather confused and unsure then, but I think you are now much more confident of yourselves.
Two years of study for an associate degree (AD) is only a short span in the continuum of life, and it seems like only yesterday that we welcomed you to the College. But we are quite certain that this short span has been worth your while and left its mark. You have endured with resilience, and you have found your strength from within. With the dedication of our academic and support staff, we believe we have delivered to Hong Kong some very competent associate degree graduates, young men and women who are ready to serve our community and dedicate themselves to their own aspirations. I am sure you would agree that CCCU provides an excellent alternative to higher education. When some of our young people still need to go overseas for their education, we can proudly proclaim that CCCU graduates are “Made in Hong Kong.”
At CCCU, we encourage our students to develop their intellectual capacities. In the course of the past year we have worked on improving our associate degrees to ensure our graduates are equipped with the necessary skills to go on to studies at university level. We have adhered to the principle that an AD programme should equip students with a solid foundation of generic skills including languages, IT, and quantitative skills, and a broad theoretical understanding of the chosen discipline. Based on a revamped philosophy and an enhanced set of learning outcomes for the College’s generic content and general education, we have dedicated much effort and resources to the design and development of a suite of generic skills and general education courses that are offered to our students.
Apart from our programmes and courses, we in the education sector sometimes promote our “star features”. We brandish our great facilities and campuses, and we speak of our well-qualified teaching faculty, efficient administrative staff, and so on. These are all true but in the ultimate analysis, it is by our graduates that we will be judged. During the past academic year, associate degree students from the College received more than 380 scholarships, prizes and awards, including external awards for achievements in personal development, community service and sports, and prizes for leadership. Many of them are here today. Many associate degree graduates have achieved outstanding results in their further academic pursuits, with first-class honours or awards in different disciplines, varying from e-logistics to Environmental Management, from Human Resources Management to Managerial Statistics, from Language Studies to Translation, and from Criminology to Social Work. Out there in the community, there are thousands of CCCU alumni holding our associate degree qualifications, and we are very proud of this contribution to Hong Kong.
About 70% of last year’s associate degree graduates chose to pursue further studies after graduation, while nearly 30% decided to enter the workforce. Among those graduates who chose to pursue further studies, about 34.2% gained entry to government-funded degree programmes, 30% were admitted to self-financing degree programmes offered by the UGC-funded institutions, 28.3% pursued overseas degree programmes offered in Hong Kong, 6.3% continued their studies at other local private universities or colleges, while the remaining 1% intended to go overseas for further studies. For those who sought employment, the great majority found jobs with competitive salaries by the end of 2012.
At CCCU, we have striven to provide a launching pad for our young people where your ideas can take flight. We are the external milieu that imbues you with knowledge, while you internalise it as your own and make it relevant for yourselves. Take what you have learnt at CCCU and expound on it. This is not a 21st century concept but is actually a lesson from the great sage Confucius. He taught his followers how thinking and learning can complement each other to create effective learning:
If one learns from others but does not think, one will be bewildered. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one will be in peril.
Such an attitude and practice of learning is so fundamental and universal that it is applicable to almost all circumstances in life, and certainly at universities. Take it with you as you go into further studies and you won’t go wrong.
For those graduates who seek employment or are already working, your graduation marks more than the completion of a life stage. It is also when your “real” education begins. Nowadays there is no such thing as a permanent job, even rarer that you will do the same job throughout your working careers. To survive and succeed, you must be adaptable, versatile, and prepared to acquire new skill sets to meet the needs of new and often diverse employment opportunities. By acquiring the education you gained in the College, the kind of education that instills team spirit and stays relevant to our community, we are very confident that you will contribute to the common good.
To our graduates here, we hope we have prepared you well for the challenges you might face. Throughout your studies, we put you in groups that you may not have liked, classroom situations where you had to defend your views, and simulations that put you under the kind of pressure you might face in real-life. Many of you have had the experience of working with a real company. Last year, nearly 900 students benefitted from the support of about 120 organisations and companies in placements, internships, study tours, or host organisations in their projects. To widen your horizons and enhance your learning experience, we encourage students to go outside classes by providing more than $10 million in funding to support out-of-classroom learning activities. Through various schemes such as the CCCU Quality Campus Life Fund, the Study Abroad Scheme and exchange programmes in the year, more than 2,600 CCCU students, including many of you, were able to participate in local and overseas activities that took you out of the classroom. We give our students the kind of training that fosters nerves of steel and emotional poise to help tackle difficult situations in the future.
Dear graduates, whatever you do in the days ahead, we hope you will do it with passion and zeal, because that is one of the best ways to find fulfillment. As we look to the future, I encourage you to reach for the stars. For those who may ask the question “where do I go from here?”, expect no answer other than your own. Never be afraid to take chances. Let life surprise you. However well we think we have planned our lives, there will always be something that we never imagined. Embrace the ever-changing world. Life is fluid, and you should roll with the changes. From here on, you will make own decisions and be responsible for them. Some of you may not discover your destiny until later. But that is no reason for panic, as your time will come. What we should not resist is the opportunity to live a life of purpose, to work in fulfillment of our dreams, and to give happiness to others. Your graduation here is but the commencement of a great new journey.
I will leave you with these words of wisdom from Confucius again:
At 15 I set my heart on learning, at 30 I took my stand; at 40 I came to be free from doubts; at 50 I understood the Decree of Heaven; at 60 my ear was attuned; at 70 I followed my heart’s desire without overstepping the line.
There is still much for you to learn. We know you are motivated and ready to excel in your chosen fields, and we know that you will persevere despite the challenges on the road ahead, because we know how we taught you. As you leave this hall, we would like you to know that you are always welcome to come back and visit us and remember the good times you had with your classmates and friends. So from all of us at CCCU, we wish you a great future, and a lifetime of happiness and contentment. Congratulations on your graduation.
Thank you very much.