Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished faculty, honored guests, and my esteemed fellow graduates,
Today, as we gather to celebrate the culmination of years of dedication, perseverance, and intellectual pursuit, I am honored to share reflections on the myths and realities that have shaped us through the intricate journey of earning a Ph.D.
Myth #1: The Hardest Thing We’ve Ever Done
Our odyssey began with the myth that a Ph.D. is synonymous with completing the most difficult project of our academic lives. It’s a sentiment we’ve all encountered, a notion that completing a doctoral program is an arduous and thankless task. But here’s the reality: far from being the worst, our Ph.D. experiences are the genesis of something beautiful, the bedrock upon which we build the edifice of our research careers.
The challenges we faced, the sleepless nights spent poring over literature reviews, the trials of collecting and analyzing data, and the exhilaration of discovering something new—all of these moments were not burdens to bear but rather the crucible in which our intellectual mettle was tested and refined. Our Ph.D. journey, with its highs and lows, has been a transformative process that has molded us into scholars with a profound understanding of our chosen fields.
The reality is that our Ph.D. is not the end but the beginning—a launching pad for a lifetime of exploration and contribution to our respective disciplines. It’s a passport that grants us entry into the elite community of scholars, a community that thrives on the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of human understanding.
Myth #2: No One Will Read Our Work
Another myth that often shadows the pursuit of a Ph.D. is the belief that no one will read our work. It’s a disheartening assumption that the fruits of our labor will languish in the dusty corners of a library, never to be discovered or appreciated. Yet, the reality is quite the opposite. Our work has the potential to reach a global audience, to transcend the confines of academia and resonate with individuals far beyond the walls of our institutions.
My classmates and I have been blessed with the opportunity to publish our research findings in well-regarded journals. Dr. Imhanzenobe’s work has been published in Cogent Management and Business Journal. Dr Ikpesu’s work has been published in the International Journal of Social Economics. Dr. Agha’s work has been published in the International Journal of Professional Business Review.
In my own journey, the research conducted for my Ph.D. became more than a thesis bound in leather—it became the cornerstone of an article that found its home in the hallowed pages of the Harvard Business Review. The myth that no one would read our work was shattered, replaced by the reality that our contributions can have a profound impact on a worldwide scale. The ripples of that publication reached individuals across the globe. I received emails from professionals, academics, and enthusiasts who resonated with the work, transforming me from a researcher into a recognized expert.
Yet, even as we celebrate these accomplishments, it is essential to acknowledge that the road to recognition is not always linear or swift. It requires patience, persistence, and a belief in the significance of our work. The reality is that our research may not yield immediate visibility, but as the seeds we plant take root, they have the potential to grow into mighty oaks that cast shadows far and wide.
Myth #3: A Ph.D. Isn’t Meant to Change the World
A particularly poignant myth that echoes in the halls of academia is the notion that a Ph.D. isn’t meant to change the world. I distinctly recall one of my professors asserting that the primary purpose of a Ph.D. is to contribute a small, incremental addition to existing knowledge rather than to spearhead revolutionary change. This sentiment embodies a myth that belies the transformative power of academic pursuits.
The reality, as history attests, is different. Consider the case of Clayton Christensen, whose doctoral thesis on innovation became the launchpad for his globally acclaimed theory on disruptive innovation. It stands as a testament to the fact that a Ph.D. has the potential to be a catalyst for profound change, challenging the status quo and inspiring movements that transcend generations.
While we may not all aspire to be Clayton Christensen, the reality is that our Ph.D. experiences are transformative. It’s not merely about contributing a few pages to the library’s archives; it’s about allowing the journey to change us. It alters the way we see the world, the way we think, and the way we set goals. It’s a metamorphosis that, if embraced, can empower us to go forth and change the world.
At this juncture, I would like to refer to an article titled “You lazy intellectual African scum,” a provocative piece that attributes Africa’s challenges to the purported laziness of its intellectuals. While the article may be a stark representation of a perspective, it also serves as a reminder of the immense responsibility we carry as scholars. The article boldly asserts that Africa’s intellectuals are unable to translate decades of post-independence research into solutions that improve the lives of the impoverished masses. While such a characterization is undoubtedly contentious, it serves as a poignant reminder of the weighty responsibility we carry.
The reality is that our research has the potential not only to contribute to academic discourse but also to effect tangible change in the lives of people. We are not merely intellectuals confined to the ivory tower; we are agents of change who possess the tools to address societal challenges.
As we embark on this new chapter, let us not forget the critical role we play in shaping the narrative of Africa’s intellectual contributions. The responsibility is not just to conduct research but to explore ways in which our findings can be applied to uplift communities, address inequalities, and contribute to the socio-economic development of the continent.
If we do not take up this responsibility, who will? Our journey has equipped us with the knowledge, skills, and networks needed to create positive change. Let us not be content with merely adding pages to the library’s archives; let us be catalysts for progress, advocates for the marginalized, and architects of a brighter future for Africa.
Gratitude and Thanksgiving
Now, it would be vain for us to take all the credit for our successes as scholars. If we are to be honest, we will admit the truth, which is that our Ph.D. journey is not a solitary endeavor—it is a collective exploration, a shared voyage of discovery with the community that supported us along the way. Our thanks go to everyone – teachers, spouses, mentors, peers and others who supported us. As once we weathered the storm, today we celebrate our collective triumph.
Conclusion: A Launchpad, Not a Destination
In conclusion, my esteemed classmates, I implore you not to forget your Ph.D. journey but to carry it with you as a compass guiding your endeavors. Let us not view it as a culmination but as a commencement—a commencement of using the skills, insights, and networks we have cultivated to impact the world in meaningful ways. Use the skills it has bestowed upon you to navigate the challenges that lie ahead, and let the knowledge you’ve gained be a catalyst for positive change.
Congratulations, my dear colleagues, on reaching this significant milestone. May our journeys continue to be filled with discovery, growth, and the unwavering belief that, armed with our Ph.D., we have the power to shape a world that eagerly awaits the brilliance and compassion we bring to it.