Dream big & shoot for the stars

Davinia Bain and Melanie Fellay address St. Andrew’s International School graduation ceremonies

The members of St. Andrew’s International School’s (SAIS) graduating grade 11 class and its grade 12 International Baccalaureate (IB) class were both charged to move into the next stage of their life and do their best by separate speakers, both graduates of the school – Davinia Bain, co-founder of several businesses geared toward establishing an ecosystem for crypto and blockchain integration in businesses throughout the Caribbean, and Melanie Fellay, who has been named on the 2022 Forbes List 30 Under 30 – Marketing and Advertising. Bain told the 11th-grade graduates to “shoot their shot” – while the 12th-grade graduates were encouraged to dream big by Fellay.

Bain, who moved over to study at the private institution after her formative years in a public school, told the graduates that she invested her time in doing things she needed to do to create the world she wanted to live in. She encouraged them to do the same.

“If you are at school, university … at the University of Paris, where I went, everyone had so much. I was the only one that didn’t have a chauffeur, didn’t have a jet, didn’t have all these things. And yet, so many of them wasted so much of their time doing everything else but studying,” said Bain. “At the end of it, I was like, OK, the smart ones got their grades and the ones flying around the world didn’t. They could not come back and say ‘what happened?’. It was a missed investment of their time. And so, to me, what I want to say is that how you spend your time is your character. Your character is who you are, right? As a result of your character – that determines what you have.”

Bain told the graduates to distinguish between who they are and what they have and to never fool themselves into thinking that what they have is who they are. She said that kind of thinking is a “trap” because they can have something today and tomorrow it could be gone.

“Who you are and what you had inside of you to get what you had is what is going to allow you to maybe get it again if you want it. You may have accolades but who you are and how you spend your time getting what you have is what makes you. So, who you are is not an issue for those of you who are A students – what you have are As; but I bet you, you are diligent, focused, a cultivator of your gift and invested, that’s who you are as a result of that A. Who you are is a part of what you have as well; but I bet you were vigilant, consistent, calculated, innovative along the way for the most part.”

Bain told the graduates that as they leave the high school phase of their life and move on to the next phase, they will be setting a lot of goals, but to ensure that they have what it takes to ensure they attain the goals they set.

She also reminded them that it’s OK to have fears about the things they want to have, but that, despite the fear, to “shoot your shot”.

Andrew’s International School (SAIS) Grade 12 International Baccalaureate (IB) graduates were encouraged to dream big by Melanie Fellay, a fellow alumna, who has been named on the 2022 Forbes List 30 Under 30 – Marketing and Advertising.

“Whatever it is that you want – if it is something that you want to have, the only thing I would say that will help to guarantee that success is think about something you want to be to get that thing that you want to have.”

Fellay, CEO and co-founder of Spekit, an employee training startup, while telling the graduates to dream, by the same token, said there is no silver bullet and that hard work pays off.

“There’s no giant shortcut,” said Fellay. “Don’t get me wrong. I definitely like to think of life as a bit of a game of ‘Chutes and Ladders’ – where there’s definitely some ways to jump ahead faster than others, or take a few steps back, but there isn’t quite the same concept of winning. You can have it all, but not at once.”

Fellay heads Spekit, which was founded in 2018, but really gained traction during the pandemic, as companies were forced to take a more serious look at how they onboard and train employees. Rather than individuals relying on in-person training sessions or user handbooks, Spekit adapts training manuals and integrates them directly into the platforms themselves.

“My first few years of Spekit, I was 100 percent focused on that. I moved in with my grandma. I worked all weekends. I stopped going to all fun events and trips I was invited to. I did not have time to date … Now, I don’t necessarily recommend that lifestyle, it’s pretty lonely – but it did make Spekit what it is today. There is no silver bullet to success other than hard work and smart work,” she told the Grade 12 IB Diploma graduates.

Fellay, a member of the class of 2010, also told the graduates that there is no such thing as the destination, and that it’s the journey. She encouraged them to embrace the journey.

“Don’t be afraid of taking big risks in life – those are the decisions that build your strength and character.”

She also urged them to be curious and to find their passion. And the best way to do that she said is by trying a number of different things – which she said she did. Fellay spoke about having tutored in college, working as a teacher’s assistant, being engaged in summer internships, event management, working at a bank, and working in the cannabis industry in accounting. She also spoke about the wide range of classes from Spanish to international leadership.

“Figure out what you like. Most important is figuring out what you don’t like.”

She told them to ascribe to the saying that their 20s is for learning and their 30s are for earning.

“Willpower is a muscle – your brain is a muscle – work them. Do the hard things first.”

Fellay encouraged the graduates to also value their relationships.

“Someone once told me – ‘your network is your net worth’. You never know how that high school or college classmate might impact your life.”

She spoke about having friends and former classmates now working for her and friends and former colleagues who have purchased Spekit’s software.

“Early on, that same network helped me spread the word and get my company off the ground.”

She also urged them to pay attention to the people they surround themselves with and how they feel after being around them – and to be OK with letting go of the people who drain them. She said not every relationship is meant to last a lifetime.

She encouraged them to stay in touch with the people who bring the most energy – and not just with the Instagram life, but who make time to call every once in a while.

As they move on to the next chapter in their lives, which Fellay told them will be “absolutely magical”, she admonished them to remember to return home when they can.

“This nation has so much potential. We need brilliant, young minds like your own,” she said.

Fellay reminded the graduates to stay present, and told them that it is OK to not have it all figured out – but to believe in themselves because their parents, teachers and friends believe in them.

The member of the SAIS class of 2010 also spoke to the graduates about things she wished she had learned sooner which would help them optimize the next chapter in their lives.

She encouraged them to find what brings them peace – moments where they really connect to self, and hobbies that bring them joy; practicing reflection, which she said she learned way too late.

“Write if it helps. It’s the best way to release and maybe even find some answers.”

Also paramount she said is finding physical release, whether working out, dancing or walking. She spoke to them about her college years when she would take an hour to hike alone. “Nature can bring so much creativity and inspiration,” she said.

Fellay encouraged them to ask for help when they need it from friends, family members, teachers and professionals. And said she can’t remember a single time she ever regretted asking anyone for help, knowing how much it has propelled her life.

Setting boundaries, she said, is equally as important and that it’s OK that they can’t be everything to everyone all at once.

“Different chapters of your life will require different things. You have to be selfish to be selfless,” she said. “And don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m all about pushing myself to reach for the moon and fall in the stars but I wish I’d been more gentle with myself, especially early on when I thought I was supposed to have it all figured out.”

And she let the graduates in on a secret which is that no one really has it all figured out, saying that if they do, they are lying. But she recommended setting the big goals even when they don’t have examples, and embracing being different, which she said has been a huge part of what helped shape her path.

Fellay, who made the Forbes list for being the third most-funded female founder in 2022, said had she been told that a few years ago, she would have laughed in the person’s face, and admitted that she still kind of giggles at the “ridiculousness” of it all.

“In my space, I’m one of very, very few women. In fact, when people ask me, ‘Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?’ The answer is not exactly.”

Fellay came to The Bahamas and SAIS from Switzerland at age 15 for year 10 and remembers being nervous on her first day, but welcomed with open arms by her entire class, and quickly making friends and learning about the Bahamian culture, which she said is dear to her heart.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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