My graduation speech - 18th December, 2021

Some of you might know that a few years ago, I missed the cut-off points for going to law school by about 2/3 points. Having lived no other dream for my career life for 18 years, it was a tough decision to choose to study something else. For the first two years of my campus life, I was deeply frustrated. I thought of appealing for my KCSE results, repeating form four, getting an interfaculty transfer, and even going abroad. In fact, I applied to 22 universities abroad and got rejected by 20. The two that accepted me were unaffordable, and finally, after two years and exhausting all my options, my mind settled on what I had been called for in uni, and a few months later, I specialized in Political Science. So celebrating this graduation today is not just about achieving a four-year academic journey; it’s a celebration of winning an internal battle, excelling in a new field, but most importantly, it is a thanksgiving for the grace that God has given me over the last four years.

But it is also a moment to thank everyone who has walked this journey with me. The first is my parents and sister, who have walked with me through this journey. They have prayed with me, encouraged me, and provided for me. Most importantly, they have believed in me through the years. More than anyone else, they have seen my growth, and they have been there for me through my weaknesses and strengths, through the good times and the bad. Today, I almost feel that it is not just my graduation, it is the Migwi family graduation, and I would like to tell you that we have finally done it! So, congratulations!

Secondly, I would like to thank my relatives and friends who cheered me. Thank you for being there for me through it all. I am forever grateful to you all. Finally, I would like to thank my

teachers who have shaped this journey. It would not have been possible without them.

Let me share with you a short story of how I got through the degree. At the height of my campus frustration, on my first day in my third year, I attended an optional class by one of my lecturers on comparative governments in the global south. The topic of discussion that day was why governments led by dictators or quasi dictators in the world inherently transitioned from poverty to development. Funny enough, in my rebellion against everything in the world, I had taken a keen obsession with benevolent dictatorship and read quite extensively on Lee Kuan Yew, Kagame, and the thoughts of Stuart Mill on this idea. And so that day, I raised my hand to give my thoughts and gave a 20-minute lecture on the ideas of benevolent dictatorship, after which I received a standing ovation from both my classmates and the lecturer.

After the class, the lecturer called me aside to reprimand my ideas on dictatorship but also to commend me for my thorough reading and understanding of crucial ideas in political science. That day, that single encouragement gave me the hope to press on and to even enjoy my degree, and from that day, my hand was always up in class. And it is an encouragement to any of you who may be feeling discouraged by life, disappointed by failure, and hopeless about things to come. You have to keep showing up; you have to keep trying, you have to keep reading, you have to keep raising your hand even if you think your answer is wrong, and you have to keep giving yourself a chance over and over again.

But I also want you to know that even after believing in yourself, raising your hand, and giving yourself a chance, the journey may still be challenging. Some of you might yet again know that at the tail end of my degree, my project supervisor refused to approve my final year project on the grounds that it was too perfect for an undergraduate. After all the struggle, I almost missed my graduation by a whisker. Yet again, I was deeply frustrated and filled with a lot of despair, having exhausted all the evidence and ways of convincing her it was my actual work. Having just finished reading The Pilgrim Progress by John Bunyan, this incident was not only relevant to my academic life but my spiritual journey. It reminded me of Christian, the main character in the story, who, even after overcoming many difficulties in his pilgrimage, found himself in the Doubting Castle where the Giant Despair tormented him and, even at the end of his journey, almost gave up at the flooding rivers just before arriving at the Celestial City. This story and my personal struggle reminded me that you have to keep striving when things get hard. You have to keep believing that the end will be worth it and that the dots will align. I can assure you that this is all that makes the difference.

(Romans 5:3-5) 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I hope that even as I pick these lessons and share these thoughts with you today here, you will never forget that hope does not disappoint.

Thank you.

SUSAN NGOIRI MIGWI

SUSAN NGOIRI MIGWI