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Convocation/Pledge Ceremony President Speech

Convocation/Pledge Ceremony President Speech

Can you imagine

Thank you for that warm introduction…my name is Dr. DeWayne Frazier and I am proud to serve as the President of American University of Nigeria. I have been working hard since I arrived at graduation this May to acclimate myself and learn the fantastic Nigeria culture.

I am trying to learn some Nigerian Pidgin English and I must be the best person pronouncing the words because each time I speak, all the Nigerians laugh. For example, I love asking someone “How Far”…so I ask them How Far, and instead of telling me a distance, they say, “I am very good”…no, I want to know how far they came! Or they say “I Dey”, still not sure what that means but after the service some of the students, please help me. Another word I like is “Abeg”, I like the word so much, I even got my own shirt to wear. So I am not sure what you are begging for, but it is a fun word….PLEASE!!!!!! I heard another one recently I am still trying to figure out, someone said “I wan Chop”…what, what are you going to slice, no idea what this Nigeria wants to cut. Well, apparently, you are telling me you want some food, of course I should have known that. I remember also arriving and saying things and people saying “Abi”…I thought for a minute and said, no, my name is DeWayne, not Abi but apparently that means I agree. One of my favorites just Nigerian phrases is when someone says, “I need to ease myself” and then they disappear for a few moments. The first 100 times I heard it, I was wondering why people say this and go away, are they going to exercise, are they going to stretch, what are they doing to ease themselves…well then one of my kind Nigerian friends said, it means they are going to the bathroom. Ahhhhhhh, I should have known that too.
In all seriousness, I have been treated so wonderful here that it truly touches my heart. I have the best driver in Nigeria in Mr. Modibo, the best security team anywhere at my home and here at AUN; I have a cook in Nanlep who takes care of “Oga” and makes sure that he has the best food anywhere: my housing assistant is so bright and articulate, Johnson and he is absolutely amazing and loves everything America, I have an executive assistant who takes care of my every need and is absolutely wonderful in Martina, and I have an amazing leadership staff that will rival any in the world. This is our AUN, a world class university with world class people. And you, the students are adding to those amazing people as you add value to not only my life but each person in this auditorium today.

Can you imagine……you would be here at this moment?

Today, we stand at the cross roads of life for both our students and campus community. As students, you are launching your academic career, and will be a part of this great citadel of learning, the American University of Nigeria. For our campus community, this is the first semester with a new president, and with a new president and a new academic career, there are new beginnings.

Life is an ever-evolving journey, marked by a continuous cycle of endings and beginnings. New beginnings are the chapters of life where we get a chance to rewrite our stories, redefine our goals and rediscover ourselves. They bring hope, excitement, and a sense of renewal. Whether they arise from person choices (like coming to college) or unexpected circumstances, new beginnings offer us the opportunity to grow, learn and ultimately, thrive.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

But, with change, there are people who will fight it, who will not want to see things change but I am here to tell you, this is going to be the best year in the history of the American University of Nigeria and each year will only get better. Faculty/ staff and students, do you believe this, if so, let me hear you (Lead the Applause).

New beginnings are the life's way of offering us a second chance, a clean slate, and an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. They require courage, resilience, and a willingness to embrace change. While they may be challenging, the rewards are often worth the effort. As we navigate the twists and turns of our life's journey, let us remember that new beginnings are not just about starting over; they are about becoming the best versions of ourselves. So, let us welcome them with open arms and embark on this beautiful journey of renewal and self-discovery.

Can you Imagine….a university that cares about its people…..

Cares about the people on our campus and in our greater Yola community. Many of you that are getting to know me or follow my social media know that I love children. As the father of six children, I find myself always drawn to kids. Growing up without my father and mother raising me in one of the poorest parts of the United States, was not always easy but it shaped me into the man that stands before you. As a child, I was like many children here and everywhere in the world, I knew what I was going to be when I grew up and I was certain of this. I was going to be Superman….oh yes, I was going to be Superman. I tried many times to jump off couches, jump off my bicycle and many other things and ultimately, I discovered I was not going to be able to fly as I fell straight down on my face each time.

So with bruises and cuts, I finally gave up on my dream of being Superman and I slowly started to have another dream. A dream to be a leader, a leader that would guide an organization, one that could change lives….if I was not going to be Superman, I wanted to be a leader of an amazing place that touches lives each day. By the very grace of God, I stand before you today saying I was able to fulfill that dream by becoming the President of the American University of Nigeria. If I can fulfill my dream, a poor kid from Kentucky, I am confident you can fulfil your dreams as well.

Each week, you will be given opportunities to give back to the community, and help others. From programs such as the Feed and Read to programs helping local school children, to assisting with sports for children in our region, you have the opportunity to touch lives. Maybe you want to find a need and start your own organization to assist people like many AUN students before you. As faculty/ staff, look at these faces, these faces of our newest students, as they are ready to launch their academic careers. Each of you have the opportunity to not only educate these young minds, you have the chance to help develop them into leaders, leaders who will be the next generation of Nigeria and the world. Leaders who will make positive change, and will be ethical leaders helping all people.

Can you Imagine….a new AUN that is ready to claim its place as the best place to work and study in all of Nigerian education?

Allow me to speak for a moment to our faculty/ staff. We know finances continue to be tight at all Nigerian universities and we continue to go through a very difficult economic time in our country with rising inflation rates, uncontrollable petrol prices and energy costs virtually rising in price daily. But even in this difficult era, we are going to find some important ways to invest in you all.

Starting this year, we are launching a partnership where AUN is joining the Council for Independent Colleges in the United States. The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association in the United States of more than 650 independent, liberal arts colleges and universities and more than 100 higher education affiliates and organizations almost all based in the United States….except, the American University of Nigeria is a partner moving forward today. We have also joined a program as one of the very first colleges outside of the United States called the Tuition Exchange. Tuition Exchange (TE) is a tuition award program, in which over 670 private colleges and universities participate.

So how does that effect you as an AUN employee, well, I am very proud to let you know that this means your children/ dependents will be able to go to the United States to study at over 600 private colleges in America for free tuition starting now! (Lead the Applause) We are one of the few colleges in the entire world that exist outside the United States that has this benefit and surely the only one in sub-Saharan Africa. More information is coming, and you will learn about our campus contact to assist you.

Now, number two, another important announcement that everyone in this commencement hall will be really pleased to learn. After many meetings this summer in Abuja, I met with various leaders at our United States Embassy and I am proud to announce here that the American University of Nigeria will be the new site of the U.S. American Space and the first one in the history of Adamawa State. This means we will have a special room for the U.S. Embassy on campus promoting United States education and we will have partners from many other American colleges and universities and people from the Embassy visiting often. The new room will launch in our library on the first floor, second floor if you are an American…but not matter, one flight of stairs up. The Embassy will send us many different books, flyers and programs for students to review and we will house our university study abroad program out of this area. The new United States Ambassador will officially take office in the coming month in Abuja, and we will give him a special invite to come to our campus to the American space and meet the students of the very best American university in all of Africa and one of the very best in the entire world.

Then number three, for all of us to know, we are launching a new era, a new era of partnerships with United States businesses in Nigeria like never before. And the entire era starts with the premier program for athletics and sports from the United States, the Nike Brand. After a series of meetings with friends on Zoom and then meeting the head of Nike Nigeria (the Hudson Company), we are going to be getting Nike uniforms for our competition gear for the university premier teams. That means Nike jerseys on your basketball players just like the National Basketball Association and that means Nike kits on our football teams, just like the Nigerian Super Eagles. Volleyball will be decked out in Nike apparel. We will have Nike hijabs, Nike soccer balls and even Nike shorts. We will be doing many things for our community through sports, and we want our entire campus community to stay involved and be ready, as run peace tournaments, camps and practices for children, as we bring athletes from around the world to campus including athletes from America as soon as two weeks from now.

Nike Nigeria asked us for many photos so they can see if any of them might work for any of their future advertisements in the country. The American University of Nigeria will soon become the premier place for athletics of any university in Nigeria and we will give special invites to teams from America to come play us as we also look to the future to go play teams in America. This my friends, is a completely new AUN, and you are a part of this renaissance as first year students and the campus community.

Fourth, as many of you had the opportunity to see at the recent parent’s dinner during orientation, we unveiled the first American style mascot we know of in all of Nigerian universities. Just like in the United States, we now have a full size mascot to attend sporting events, go meet children in the community, go to recruitment events and meet our alums….yes, Stanley the AUN Stallion has come to Yola and he is here to stay.

Can you imagine….that your time is now, you are here for a reason?

I am always a firm believer in Gods world there are no accidents, that each of us have made it here to this little part of the world for this particular day together. You could be anywhere today, but you are not, you are here on this world class campus in the middle of Adamawa state in the great country of Nigeria. It is not by accident that God brought each of here today, we are all here, faculty, staff and students, to do something great and to make the world a better place through education.

One of my heroes, a person who truly embodies the spirit of this university is our dear Founder Atiku Abubakar. His story of coming from humble beginnings right here in Adamawa, he has shared with us that he lost his father at an early age and it was just him and his mother, life was difficult, very difficult for our dear Founder. But, it was when he was young that he met a group of Americans from an organization called the Peace Corps and they invested in him through education. It was this exposure to American style education that touched him, in such a way that each of us are here today because he had a dream to bring that same style of American education to Nigeria and to all of sub-Saharan Africa. Please join me in a round of applause for our dear Founder as this academic year, we will turn 20 years old.

Our dear Founder had this to say on education:

Education truly can change a person’s story, it gave me everything. Whatever happens, get an #‎ education .

Are you ready to change your “story”? Life is like an open journal, and you are the one to write the pages. Each of us are not promised a tomorrow, so we need to live each day working hard and living for the moment.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die. This is your season, this is your time, will you be ready for the moment?

We are all a part of something much bigger, we are here in a moment, and with that moment, we can change this country, this continent and ultimately the world through the power of education. It is my sincere prayer for each of you, that we all turn forward, and not only look into our futures but together, we all will build our futures as the best university in the entire continent, not second best, not just top ten, we are going to be the absolute best and I demand nothing less and I ask that you do the same.
In a world where you can be anything, please always remember to be KIND.
May God bless each of you, may God bless our dear Founder and may God Bless the American University of Nigeria.

But, as I grew older and gave up on that dream of being superman, I had another dream years later, and that dream

Dr. DeWayne Frazier,
American University of Nigeria
2023 Fall Semester Convocation and Pledge Ceremony
Monday, August, 28, 2023.