Joachim Asare: His Powerful Speech Celebrating The Experiences And Ambitions Of Ashesi’s Class Of 2020

Joachim Asare

Joachim Asare, an Electrical and Electronics Engineering Major, and a MasterCard Foundation Scholar, was been selected as the Class Speaker for Ashesi University’s 16th Commencement ceremony which took place on Saturday, May 15, 2021. As one of the best graduating students, Asare delivered a speech on behalf of Ashesi’s Class of 2020.

He describes himself as “a versatile engineer who is passionate about Electrical, Computer and Software engineering systems”. His passion for engineering propelled him to conducted research and projects in most of the engineering fields. As a student, he developed a smart bracelet that diagnoses two fevers (malaria and typhoid) and identifies the type of fever present.

Asare currently works as Faculty Intern at Ashesi. As a Faculty Intern, he assists in the teaching of engineering courses, and also, helps faculty members undertake research. It is his dream to make a difference as an engineer in Ghana by “contributing to the advancement of the country through engineering solutions, to make life more efficient” for people.

In his interesting and fun speech, he shared the collective experiences, lessons and ambitions of the Class of 2020.

Joachim Asare

Read Joachim Asare’s speech below:

Nananom, Members of the Ashesi Community, Distinguished Guests, Fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen. I, Joachim Asare, am most honoured to be the voice of the most elegant, vibrant, and audacious Class of 2020. 

“Imagine having trekked for hundreds of miles on a desert and being given a glass of cold water. You don’t sip it; at that moment, you may gulp it down, stopping short of swallowing the glass because you were thirsty.” 

This is how I picture the emotion the Class of 2020 feels in our hearts today. After a long trek of learning, here we are, receiving a glass of cold water. And that glass holds our pride and sense of fulfilment, to have come this far, and have come as far could go with the undergraduate degree journey. To look up and see yourself past the finish line alone, is joy unspeakable. Our journey is not yet over! And indeed, the Ashesi education has made us ready for the eternal work of impact. But today, we must pause to drink this glass of cold water. 

Just think about it; 

It’s Sunday about a year ago, and you have gone through all your emails for the weekend, or so you hope; checked on all class messaging groups; and perhaps even gone further to make some phone calls to Eugene, Nana Akua or Zoe just to enquire whether you indeed have no more assignments due. Think about how relieving it is when this Ashesi trinity tells you that, INDEED, there is no assignment. Yet, there is still an uneasy peace within you. Is this real? Should we be watching out for a late-night assignment shocker from Dr. Armah? Or prepare for an OLI and all-night FDE group meeting that would take up the whole day? And you find yourself at your ‘weak’ end, instead of having enjoyed a weekend. Although I am the one saying it now, I am speaking what many are thinking. “Y’abl3 oh, y’abl3!”

Now we have always been in uncertain times; but the last year has been more uncertain than most, with the unexpected invasion of COVID-19 that the global scene has had to accommodate. How scary it was in those early days last year; and how often did we attempt humour ourselves by saying that “by June dier…”

Our educational systems faced a Herculean challenge, mainly concerning the continuity of classes and community. At such a time, Ashesi University led the charge as we transitioned online, confident enough to finish classes on schedule, and totally denying the COVID-19 pandemic any chance to stop the path of completion we were on. This was a reminder to us all, that come what may, Ashesi would always make a way. Especially this last year, I could not be prouder to be a part of this community.

And the unforeseen events that have led to this ceremony being held virtually, after waiting a year with the hope of hosting in-person, is a lesson to us all that learning to live and thrive within uncertainty must be our norm. Ashesi has taught us this in the ways only Ashesi can.

The stories we heard about this place while we were just high school students peaked our interests. It was the fairytale land children dreamt of going to see. We would not appreciate how intense the educational system was here until we arrived. All we heard prior was that there were opportunities all over this place. Oh, and wait, WiFi.

So, I joined the bandwagon. I applied as many do. Nothing would deter me from coming to this paradise, I said to myself.

And here was I in the bakery making bread with my mum only to receive an email prompt on my phone that I had gained admission into Ashesi and had been selected to be a MasterCard Foundation Scholar. Fast forward, here I am today, in the future I fantasized about a few years back. Becoming an Ashesi graduate used to be only a wish. Now it is a wish granted.

But in this paradise, the streets were not paved with gold. They were paved with the sweat and hard work of generations of Ashesi; the hard work that became the success stories we heard about before coming here, and that we continue to hear about today. We learned of many who had made the Ashesi trek and received their cold water glasses. And we, Class of 2020, were determined to join them. And so we showed up. The likes of Reginald were undeterred. Our very own Mr Versatile, who sold anything and everything on this campus. His flood of advertisements to our class were incomparable to Google’s interruptions with ads on YouTube. And then there was Mr Music Man, Sebastian Dakey, who combined his rigorous coursework with the position of the Assistant Music Director of the Tema Youth Choir.

And not to forget, the Messi-an traits of Samuel Maison and Melinawu, Ronaldonic abilities of Philip Afriyie, Alex Morganic skills of Nana Ama or Lebronic skills of Sam Fordjour and Masateru. Neither can we ignore the fashion sense of Herman Duse nor wizardry projects by the likes of Oracking and Jeremiah. When it mattered, we always showed up. And as we reflect on our individual and collective journey, we see our sweat and hardwork on the streets of Ashesi as well, helping strengthen this paradise we came into years ago.

And now, having had these opportunities and proven ourselves, there are a lot of things that we may believe should come easy to us. But we also understand that the world doesn’t always give to you what you deserve. It often gives to you only what you fight for. We also understand that it is not a million opportunities that will allow us to become successful. It will most likely be making the most of one. 

To my peers, cherish the relationships you built here and let us transform them into strong networks. We had friends that kept us from falling, peers who saw ahead and held our hands. For me, I am ever grateful to my’ dream study group’ that never met. Otema, Joshua, Afriyie and Ewuradjoa, thank you. Otema, who took minutes at our meetings is now a growing data scientist and also doubles as the co-founder of ‘She Can’, a community that encourages girls to pursue careers in Tech. Joshua, the group leader and one responsible for optimizing our meetings, and is now a software engineer, building mobile applications to make our lives easier. Ewuradjoa, who organized the meetings, and is now an excellent automation engineer who builds software to automate industrial plants. Afriyie, who shared practice examples, and is now a PV Design engineering professional innovating the new era of our transition to renewables.

Our next phase of life is one where everything we have learnt, all we have been equipped with, and all we have garnered, will be put to the test; where we cannot hide behind grades as markers of success, nor behind age. No matter how different, every challenge you face is a question; asking you whether you believe in who you claim you want to be. From today, we are no more Ashesi University students, and not even by an inch have we moved from the “student” status because the world is a whole school on its own. We apply the lessons learned and we never stop learning. 

We will live by the words of Thomas Edison and tell ourselves in difficult times, “we have not failed 1,000 times. We have found 1,000 ways that would not work.”

And we will live by the words of Edwin Cole, and tell ourselves that, “We do not drown by falling in water, we drown by staying there.”

Those who fall, clean up, and move on, because as long as we have a dream, an ambition to reach, we can and must keep going forward. That is the spirit. That is how we earn our space at the top. That is what our time here at Ashesi has taught us. And that is what we carry into the world.

So class of 2020, get your second glass of cold water. This time, let’s relax and drink. After all, IF WE NO JAMMMMM, to what avail was this whole experience!

Congratulations Class of 2020! We made it!


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