Optimism is the key, student rep tells graduation audiences

05 Apr 2018

Student representative James Bradshaw presented almost 1000 students for graduation last week, and delivered his well-considered speech at the two graduation ceremonies, describing how his success had come after a steep learning curve.

He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after high school and had a mix of subjects behind him. “I was recommended to look into engineering, so I did and the nature of the career being outdoors building stuff, along with the problem solving aspects, got me interested.”    

Three years later after completing the Bachelor of Engineering Technology at Ara Institute of Canterbury, Bradshaw was snapped up by a prominent construction company.

“After I completed my final exam, the following week I was on an induction course and straight into work,” he said. “I am currently working at Fulton Hogan as a graduate engineer, which involves a one year rotation throughout various departments within the business. This is to build up my practical knowledge and get to know the guys on the ground. My schedule is to rotate through the maintenance department, the laboratory, construction in Ashburton, projects department and surfacing.”        

In front of audiences of some 5000 people at the Autumn Graduation ceremonies at Horncastle Arena, Bradshaw acknowledged how the challenges of tertiary life had prepared all of the graduates for their careers.

“From this we can be proud, as we have grown from our struggles into knowledgeable professionals whom can helpfully contribute to the greater good of society. Whether that be building new roads to better connect communities, providing care to our sick and elderly, delivering music to brighten people’s moods, or developing art and choreography to entertain and inspire. All of us have chosen different paths in life, but we can all relate to a single purpose… we strived for knowledge to help people.”

He started his speech by thanking his tutors for their part in helping students succeed. “I’d first would like to send my gratitude to the tutors whom lead us down the pathway to our success. I, like I’d imagine many students here, take pride in belonging to an institution whose tutors are made up of people who take the time to get to know us, build upon our individual talents and whom aspire to mould us into conceptual thinkers.”

And he left the audience with uplifting advice: “Optimism is a key to everything. Displaying a positive and determined mind-set brings forth both positive interactions and positive events. You are the only person who can truly build and rule your destiny.”

It wasn’t easy for Bradshaw to adjust to studying and he had to develop strategies to helphim succeed. “Tertiary education was a major step up for me from high school, as I had very minimal study skills nor the discipline. Because of this, at the beginning of the course I struggled to keep up with the content and fell behind,” he said.

“It took me approximately a year and a half to build up my discipline and develop an effective study plan. Working part time and renting throughout the course of my degree took a big chunk out of my free/study time I had available, which really built up my time management skills. I spent a lot of my spare time in solitude in the library memorizing content for tests and exams, which was well worth the time.”

“Overall I managed to go from a C grade student to an A grade student, along with being awarded an industry scholarship. So I have come a long way and I’m proud of what I have achieved.”