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2009 graduation ceremony address – Professor Duncan Bentley

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Chancellor, Members of Council, graduates, staff, ladies and gentlemen. The staff at Curtin is immensely proud that we are changing the world, one graduate at a time. Tonight you represent a mighty force for change and a promising future for the world.

As you look back over your time at Curtin there will be highs and lows, frustration and joy. The anguish of choosing your options and electives will fade into the memory of that brilliant assignment you did (even if the marker didn’t always appreciate the genius involved). Some teachers sent you into instant slumber; others inspired you to go way beyond your own expectations. Graduates from 30 years ago fondly remember their time spent parking. But they also remember how their lives were changed through the education they experienced here. You will recall team members you will never want to work with again and friends who will remain close to you for life.

It is said that education is what remains, when you have forgotten all that you have learnt. This is not quite true. I studied the Roman Jurist Justinian in the original Latin and I still recall some of the penalties for injuring another person’s slave with a runaway cart -although I have never had the opportunity to apply that knowledge.

In a few years most of you will be employed in areas that haven’t yet been invented. Certainly the knowledge you apply will be far removed from anything you learnt in the classroom. So have we defrauded you? Have you wasted your time here?

By no means! As I said at the start, Curtin is changing the world, one graduate at a time. The experiences you have had and the skills you have developed here at Curtin will give you the invaluable resources to let you do almost anything that you have the courage and determination to attempt. Our curriculum is designed to not to fill your heads with useless information, but to take knowledge of any kind and use it effectively to solve the complex problems that will be thrown at you every day.

Yes, some of the difficulties you encountered during your degree caused you anxiety and stress. Yes, some of the workloads were ridiculous and pushed you to the limit of your endurance. Yes, some of the people and conflicts were unnecessary and diverted you from your work.

But pull together all of those experiences that you would not choose and you will find that you developed and honed skills that have given you character, purpose and the ability to deal with life. In addition you have each had numerous positive and life-changing experiences. You have made remarkable friends.

As you look back at who you were when you started your degree and see how far you have come and the skills and attributes you have developed you can be proud. You can also be optimistic in a world facing huge challenges. For it is you, with your skills and abilities who will make the changes we need to transform our society for a sustainable future.

You join a proud network of over 120,000 Curtin alumni who are doing just that. Join the alumni networks wherever you are in the world. You are part of the Curtin family forever so make the most of it. You will be mixing with alumni from the Faculties represented here tonight like Michael Minosora, the Chief Financial Officer of Fortescue Metals Group and Managing Director of Azure Capital, David Malone, Executive Director of the Health Promotion Foundation of Western Australia, Member of Parliament Rita Saffioti and John Worsefold, coach of the West Coast Eagles. They all were once where you are now. They have gone on to achieve at the highest level and are influencing the future for all of us.

We have high expectations of you. But we are also very comfortable that our future rests in your hands – a group of outstanding Curtin graduates. Well done on your achievement.