UWTSD graduate thanks staff with heartfelt speech during graduation


Reham Ismail Saeed Al-Shaibani who recently graduated with a First Class Honours BSc in Business Information Technology made a heart-felt speech during one of the University’s graduation ceremonies in Swansea. 

Having grown up in Yemen, Reham’s journey has been tumultuous yet transformative.  Here, Reham reflects on her time at UWTSD and pays tribute to those who’ve helped her realise her dreams:

“Can you believe it guys, we’ve made it!  We are graduating today! After three years of struggle!! And here we are celebrating and dancing from happiness, sharing this happiness with the people that were there for us throughout this whole transitional time that made us the people we are now. So let’s thank those people like our amazing parents.  Thank you father for all the lectures you gave me all the way to school when I was teenager and immature, and thank you mother for teaching me the survival skills of cleaning and cooking for myself. Thanks to my sister and friends who were there all night making sure I’d finished and submitted my assignments. Then I want to thank all the lecturers for all their hard work and for using all their energy to make us ready for the Real Life. I also want to say, James Williams you are a unique, smiley lecturer.  Your spirit inspires the whole school and without you, I wouldn’t have survived the last three years. You always say that I did this all by myself but no, I did it with your help – you were the one motivating me, believing in me and pushing me to follow any dream I had. So thank you, thank you for leaving your office door open, thank you for being an idol for me, thank you for being you.

“There are other staff members who made a difference and I would like to thank: Joan and the other staff in reception for their small talk every morning; Susan and other Librarians being there to help me with referencing and finding books; Simon and other caretakers for making me smile with their jokes or little talks; the Career Advisor Department for helping me update my CV. Kim and Jamie in the Marketing department for all the experiences I had in different student ambassador roles. Gruff and the rest of the international office for their amazing trips.  I wanted to thank all of you, because without you knowing, I have considered you as my friends and family for me for the last three years. UWTSD didn’t only transform my education, it also transformed my life.

“I came to this country after leaving friends and family back home in a war zone.  For those of you who don’t know, I am from Yemen. Being here for those last four years still seems like a dream and every day, I spent my day like it is my last day, as I was afraid that I’d  wake up from this amazing dream one day. For some reason, in the beginning it was hard for me to make friends and that used to put me down.  In addition, I used to be worried about my family every second and when I used to get a call from them, I would pray to God and ask him not to give me bad news.  That was a lot to handle sometimes. But all of that stress pushed me to work harder and harder in University and to let my parents know that I was here - not throwing their money away - but working hard to make them proud. I volunteered and applied for every student job or position available in the University as student ambassador, faculty rep and International student officer and more.  The reason I did all of this is because it used to keep my mind busy so that I wouldn’t have time to think or worry about my family or what would happen to me after graduating.  I never wanted to go back to those sleepless nights fearing each night would be my last. I did all of that to keep myself positive and enjoy what I had- there are lots out there wishing to be in my position and remembering this is what would wake me up every morning.

“You know guys, I never got first in anything, but here I am today, graduating with first class honours.  That makes me proud of myself, of how much I have grown as a person. My family are living in Cairo now so there’s no more stress, and I have made friends for a life time and they all made my last year in uni a year to remember.

“My message to all of you no matter who you are, never give up, don’t let anything to put you down.  If your life is miserable, make that push you to work harder as others would wish to be in your place. Never forget your dreams and fight for them, no matter how silly they are, as many people thought this speech was a silly dream but it meant the world to me. Fight and fight.  Never give up, as you live your life only once and if you haven’t reached any of your dreams, when will you? And remember this every second.  As you grow older, you may wish that you could go back to that period and change something about it, so make sure every step you do, is one that you really want to make. If yes, then go for it, and don’t forget you are never, never too old or too young to follow your dreams.  Thank you.”

Further Information

  1. For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476 / sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk