2010 Fredericton Convocation

Graduation Address

Delivered by: Sharpe, Dawn

Convocation Address (21 October 2010): 1-2. (UA Case 69, Box 3)

Mr. Chancellor, Members of the Board of Governors, Mr. President, Graduands, Fellow Alumni, Ladies and Gentlemen

When we received the invitation to Convocation, I was described with three words that I was surprised summed up my life "Alumnus, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist". It did take me a while to accept and process what these words meant in the context of my life.

I considered these three words and offer observations on them. Those of you about to graduate may be able to extrapolate these remarks to your future.

Firstly, Alumnus: I spent five years in the Faculty of Civil Engineering which shaped the rest of my life - my university days provided me with the ability to apply myself in my chosen field - oil and gas in Alberta. The sum of the knowledge taken to my career was only one part of my education. It was the ability and the desire to apply myself that was the most valuable asset that I received from UNB.

Secondly,Entreprenuer: The burning desire to be a success led me to develop the skills, as my career choice in petroleum exploration and development required much more than pure engineering applications. I relished the business I was in.

Due to the big swings in the business cycle in my industry, I was forced into the position of starting my own business, that is to say I lost my job and had no other choice - the small company I was with folded and we were all unemployed. The entrepreneurial skills were quickly honed - out of necessity. You might notice that this is similar to the economic climate that you face today. Luckily I found my niche here and it suited me to be self-employed. With it cam development of real skills in project management, with a great deal of attention to detail (read 'tight cost control'), and doing my job well was rewarding and brought financial success.

Good business relationships with like minded individuals, and a supportive family, made possible continued success in our endeavors.

Throughout my career, the oil industry went through many - at least six or seven, severe booms and busts. We had to show restraint in the booms, when credit and expansion were easy, to survive the busts. The pleasure of being successful came from working at something I loved doing - I had a real passion for my work.

Thirdly, Philanthropist, my wife Susan and I met at UNB, and throughout my career we have been in contact and participated with UNB because we valued the education I received here, and the relationships we had made. We felt honoured to be able to help UNB with contacts in Alberta, and with the input of our children to establish the Sharpe Family Scholarship to give others the opportunities that UNB gave to us. We were most pleased when our son David chose to attend UNB for his two degrees in Computer Science.

This completes the circle from receiving my education, to using it, to giving back so others can have the same opportunities that I have had through this wonderful life experience.

On the invitation my life was distilled to three words: Alumnus, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist. For those of you about to graduate, you will soon have the first word, as alumna or alumnus. Now it is entirely up to you to make of your life what you will. However you go about creating the three words that can be used to describe you - do it with passion! Good luck!

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