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31 May 2012

My speech at the university

I want to show you what Hanno and I were doing last night. We were invited to be guests at the Rotary and University of the Sunshine Coast Community Fund dinner. The function was to present three PhD students: Jennifer Castell, Cathryn Morriss and Corinna Burgin-Maunder, with a Rotary Scholarship. I had the honour and privilege of being the guest speaker.

Here is Hanno sitting at the dignitaries table. We both thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Giving my speech.

Meeting Rotarians giving donation cheques to Executive Officer of the University of the Sunshine Coast Foundation, Mr Andrew Pentland, (left) and Chairman of the Rotary and University of the Sunshine Coast Community Fund, Mr Win Fowles (right).

Of course, I took you with me, here is part of my speech. Naturally, spoke about my blog: 

So at 64, when I expected to be slowing down and becoming invisible, people I don’t know write to me from all over the world and locals say hello on the street. People want to know my opinion. Amazing things can happen when you focus on your goals and work towards them. Even here, in our corner of the world, writing in my little room in Landsborough, with only Hanno at my side, I have reached out and touched the world. And if I can do that, anything is possible. 

And to Jennifer, Cathryn and Corrina… 

Almost all my successes came because I stood on a firm foundation of sound education. I was not afraid of hard work and even when I was sitting alone in my work room, tapping away on my computer, I believed in myself. Success is not out there. It’s in here. (Point to head) 

The seeds for success are sown in childhood and are cultivated by reading books, by observation, by ambition, by hard work, by identifying the pathways to excellence and by having opportunities to succeed. We are the lucky ones. We have been mentored by our lecturers and nurtured by our Universities. It is up to all of us who have had that good fortune, to expand on it and make the investment in us pay off, not only for ourselves, but for our country as well. Despite what we hear constantly, it is intelligence and learning that will take us forward, but there needs to be a good dose of flexibility in there as well. 

Not much is stable in our world, even what appears stable has its own instabilities. By incorporating flexibility into your plan, you’ll give yourself the best chance of success. You can never know what you’ll discover or learn along the way but flexibility will help you adjust your plans and ideas to incorporate the unexpected. 

Never disregard surprises. They are often full of potential. 

For it is when the best ideas meet observation and team up with something unexpected and astonishing, that the extraordinary is realised...

After my speech, heading back to sit with Hanno again.

As I was sitting there last night, looking around the room full of local and not-so-local people, I was reminded, yet again, that the work of communities is carried out when each of us make the decision to step outside our homes and connect with others. Here it was our local Rotary Clubs banding together to raise much needed funds for the University, but it could have been any number of wonderful community organisations or individuals doing their best in their community. Important things happen in our communities, they support us and we must give back.

And I must say a word about the University itself because I was very impressed. I was seated next to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Greg Hill, a delightful man, who gave a presentation about the recent progress on campus. Among the highlights: tenders are now being sorted through for the $2 billion University Hospital, and USC was the only public university in Queensland to be awarded five stars for teaching quality in the 2012 Good Universities Guide. These are certainly fine achievements for any university but for such a young university, it is a testament to the leadership and commitment of the staff and to the students.


  1. Well, Rhonda, when you're dispensing advice like that, no wonder you're in demand!

    Glad you had a lovely evening, thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. wow, congratulations! such wonderful words, too. :)sarah

  3. You would be a wonderful choice for presenting a commencement speech. Imagine that! Anything is possible indeed. Cheers!

  4. Fabulous Rhonda. Wise words indeed.

  5. SCU has come a long way! I remember, when I graduated from Mountain Creek up there, education wasn't an option at SCU because they only had Arts, IT and Business faculties. Now I feel old and my dad wants to go to SCU to update his finanical advice skills! A lovely speech, Rhonda. Your profile keeps going up and up! I was talking about your book to my sister and my neighbour head me and said "I have that book! It's great!" and we got chatting on all our favourite parts of your book :)

  6. Well said Rhonda. You look just as mcuh at home behind the podium as you do sitting at your desk :)

  7. Great speech Rhonda, very inspiring words as usual!

  8. wonderful speech Rhonda. I particulalry liked the bit about how lucky we are to have these opportunities and how success is inside us. Also the comments about how children learn. Very well said! x!

  9. Thanks Rhonda - I really needed those words today.

  10. francesmoniqueMay 31, 2012 10:25 am

    Thanks Rhonda. You look so happy.

  11. Wonderful for you! The University had a very interesting choice of speaker - they are forward-thinking by choosing you.

  12. That's wonderful, Rhonda. Your post today brought tears to my eyes. You are a master teacher, and a shining example of excellence! They don't teach what you do in school, and it is vitally important. I am so glad that you are receiving the recognition you deserve! Your work is very needed on this planet right now!


  13. Hello Rhonda
    You looked just the part standing up there!
    Inspiring speech and loved your outfit too.
    What's next for Rhonda and Hanno?? I always tune in to see!!!

  14. Well done Rhonda and Hanno,

    We are proud to know you and such wise words too.

    Blessings Gail.

  15. Way to go Rhonda and Hanno!!! Such wise and inspiring words. Yesterday my husband went out to get the mail in and my book had arrived from Fishpond. I was so excited that I sat down and read several chapters!!! The book is all that I knew it would be...Blessings, Carolyn Gilbert,Pensacola,Florida.

  16. Hi Rhonda,
    what a wonderful speech !!
    Í can see you had a great time. The university sounds fantastic !!
    Have a great day and hugs from The Netherlands.

  17. Love PhD students getting support. The simple life you write about is essential on a PhD salary. Anyone who takes on a PhD is not looking for monetary wealth. Congrats on your expanding role as an educator.

  18. How proud Hanno must have been of your being able to do this!! I am impressed!!
    Elizabeth in NC

  19. Elizabeth, when we sat down to dinner last night Hanno told me how proud his was of the work I'm doing. :- )

    Over the weekend, I'm going to darken the text. I haven't done it yet because I have to modify the html, which is not my strong suit.

  20. Congratulations Rhonda, how wonderful that universities are realising the importance of real life educators.

    It looks like you both had a wonderful time.

  21. Thanks again, Rhonda, for your time and your contribution to a great Rotary night at the University of the Sunshine Coast. I don't have the exact final figures yet but we are certain of a record contribution by Coast Rotary clubs, which means we can guarantee another three Rotary scholarships at the same level for next year (and a bit beyond). Your contribution is greatly appreciated by all of the Rotary clubs on the Sunshine Coast as well as by USC and, of course, by all current and future Rotary scholarship winners.


Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

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