Valedictory Speech – USIU-Africa Class of 2019


Note: Introduction below by Amb. Professor Ruthie Rono

“Our valedictorian this year is Joshi Advait Rakshit. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Technology with a GPA of 3.924 out of 4.0 Welcome. Let’s welcome him to make his speech on behalf of all the graduates. Welcome, Joshi.”


First of all, thank you for that amazing welcome. You guys are all amazing.

So, two weeks ago, I got an email and I found out that I was the valedictorian of the Class of 2019, and that I had to give a speech today. So I sat down and asked myself if: if I had the chance to say something to more than 5000 people, what would I say? Think about it. It’s a serious question. What would you say if you had one chance?

Right. So, today you’ll hear my answer.

Number one: work really hard. Work as hard as you can, every hour, every day of your life, work as hard as possible. Because you don’t change the world working eight hours a day, five days a week. So work as hard as you can.

Second, don’t follow trends. Be yourself. Trust yourself to make the right decision for you. Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t go against the crowd. Let the crowd do its thing. You do your thing. Right.

Number three: Take risks. A lot of you graduates are pretty young right now. You’re not tied down; you’re uncommitted; you don’t have many responsibilities. You’re only taking care of yourself. So you’ll never have a better time to take risks. In 10 years you’re going to be tied down much more than you are right now. So take risks now. There may not be any other time.

On a more personal level, take risks again. To paraphrase Marcus Aurelius: “Do not act as if you’re going to live 10,000 years. Death hangs above you. While it’s in your power, while you can do it, do what you love to do, what you think is right.”

This right here – you seated here – this is it. This is your life. Take it in your hands, do whatever you want to do.

Don’t think twice. Just do what you have to do.

There are no second chances. So do something new, do something scary, do something that excites you. Get out of your comfort zone.

Define your own normal.

People are going to call you odd. People are going to call you weird. Some people are going to call you crazy. But those parts of you, those parts of you that are odd and weird and crazy, that’s what makes you, you.

So don’t trade your authenticity for other people’s approval. Once again: be yourself.


Yeah, thank you.

Most people live in the bubble of their day-to-day lives, right, without realizing how much more the world contains. In a world of 7 billion perspectives, how sure you that yours is correct?

Be open to learning new things. Approach things with an open mind. Be intellectually humble. Always be open to the possibility that, you know, you may be wrong.

So, moving on, what’s your comfort zone? If you interact with the same people every day, that’s your comfort zone. If you visit the same places every day, that’s your comfort zone. If you’re doing the same things every day, that’s your comfort zone.

So, how do you get out of your comfort zone? Well, it’s pretty simple. Just three things. Number one: meet new people. Number two: visit new places. Number three: do new things.

If there’s one thing I’d like you guys to take away from this, from my speech, it’s these three things. Just try new things, explore who you are.

Number Four, and I personally think that this is the most important point. Have empathy. Everyone thinks that they’re the main character in their own movie.

You know, we’re all looking outwards and we – we only see our lives. We don’t see the struggles that many others are going through.

So it’s not true. We aren’t the main characters of our own movie. We are all supporting actors. We are all the cast.

If you look around you, every single person who is in attendance today, right, all of you five thousand, seven thousand, however many you are; all of you have your own lives. All of you have your own fights. All of you have your own struggles.

Every person has a story and it’s just as deep and involving as your own. So, when you interact with different people, at the end of the day, you realize that most people are just as human as you are. No more, and no less. We’re all fighting our own battles, so be kind to others.

Finally, in this 50th year of USIU-Africa, I’d like to make a toast to all of us. So, I’m going to raise my imaginary wine glass, right? And i’m going to give this famous toast:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them…”

(Cheers and Applause)
Hold on, hold on I’m not done. Sorry guys.

“…so, you can’t ignore them because they change things! They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, they’re the ones who change the world.”

We – we graduands – we are part of the most connected, most informed generation in human history. We are the magicians of the 21st century. So, guys, let’s go out there, let’s make some magic.