Guest speaker Professor Peter Zilla

12 December 2019 | Video Nico Badenhuizen. Photo Brenton Geach.

Guest speaker at the 10:00 ceremony on Thursday, 12 December, was cardiac surgeon Professor Peter Zilla of the Chris Barnard Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He urged graduands to develop the life mantra, “curious with purpose”.

“Graduation is a highlight we share all around the world … however, it comes with privileges and responsibility. One of the privileges is that higher education gives us the tools to be curious with purpose … And now society needs you to go out and ask questions with purpose.”

He said higher education also prepared graduands for leadership. Leadership was not management, however, but rather ongoing curiosity, exploring uncharted territory and finding creative solutions.

“Life on purpose should be your governing principle,” he said, referring to his hero, Dr Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor.

“His mantra stated that the detour through purpose is faster and more successful than the direct route. Let me assure you, your curiosity and purpose will make your life both colourful and meaningful.”

Citing examples from his own life and pioneering work, Zilla said, “You are the leaders of tomorrow. Challenging circumstance can only break your spirit if you stop asking questions and if you stop believing that you can come up with creative answers.”

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