Qiang Li's inspiring address at the 2017 SCSA Awards Ceremony at Government House, 15 February 2017

SCSA Ceremony 15/02/2017 Student Response Speech Qiang Li
Qiang Li, Dux of Hale School 2015, was invited to speak to an audience of 750 people including the Governor of WA, the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AO, the Minister for Education Mr Peter Collier, MLA, and all WACE Exhibition and Award winners from 2016 from across the state, and many parents and school principals. 

Qiang's speech was acclaimed as absolutely inspiring. Qiang spoke eloquently of three crucially important things - people, perseverance and purpose - which together form the guiding compass of his life. Please take a few minutes to read it below:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, esteemed guests, family members and awardees. My name is Qiang Li, it is an honour to be here tonight. I would like to begin by once again offering my sincerest congratulations to all the 2016 exhibition and award winners. The road that led you to this historical ballroom tonight took many years to walk and is paved with your sacrifice and hard work. Well done! And no one knows this better than the people that were there with you every step of the way:
Our mums and dads who work hard to provide for us and shower us with unconditional love and support; our teachers and principals who dedicate their lives to nourishing our minds with the infinite power of knowledge; and the public servants and government officials who work tirelessly to ensure we have one of the top education systems in the world. All these people work together in one way or another to push us to our full potential.
And for that, we will be forever indebted, so please put your hands together again and show them our deepest gratitude.
When I was asked to say a few words to the best and brightest of WA’s 2016 graduates, to say I felt a little pressure is an understatement. There’s not much I can say that you wouldn’t know, so I would like to instead share with you three things that are important in my life. The three Ps: people, perseverance and purpose. These 3Ps act as the guiding compass in my life, and I hope by sharing them with you they might also prove to be of some use.
The most important thing in this world is people, more importantly, good people. Our achievements have a lot to do with the good people we have in our support systems. On the cusp of this brand new chapter in your life, you will need them more than ever.
What we don’t think about often are the countless people whom we will never meet but who have changed our lives for the better. There is Jonas Salk who developed the first successful polio vaccine; Tim Berners-Lee who created the World Wide Web or Marie Curie who developed the theory of radioactivity. These people didn’t have to help us so why did they? I think, it was because of their unwavering belief and love for humanity.
We are so lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world, but we sometimes forget that the things we take for granted are privileges enjoyed by the few. Therefore, it’s even more important for us to be responsible and good people first and foremost and give back to society, whenever we see an opportunity.
P is for perseverance- of which affirmation is an essential part. Regarding this, Nietzche said it in a way that makes the most sense to me.
He said that, “If we affirm one single moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event - and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed.”
As human beings, we all need affirmation. It is our way of knowing we are an integral part of something much bigger. And all it takes is one affirmation to encourage us to persevere. And this will sustain us until perseverance itself becomes self-sustaining. This is why perseverance is powerful and needed for success. It pushes us to endure self doubt, failure and difficulty- inevitable occurrences during any worthy pursuit.
Lastly, P is for purpose. It was actually when I was reading about the difference between persistence and perseverance that the importance of purpose was reinforced. Persistence was described as “pursuing a cause for the sake of pursuit and for no other end goal” and when I think about it, that sounds a bit like me during my last couple of years at school.
At the time, my motivation was to get 99.95 and pass UMAT so I could get into medicine. But, I never took the time to ask myself why I wanted this. After some thought, I realised that it is important to have not only an academic purpose, but a purpose- in life, as having a greater purpose is the defining factor of perseverance. No matter what path we choose in life, we ought to let it lead to the betterment of humanity

If we pursue knowledge for its own sake with no intention of using it to help others, then any knowledge acquired is in vain. So let’s make it our greater purpose to use knowledge to light up the lives of those who live in darkness, in whatever way we choose.
To the best and brightest of WA’s 2016 graduates, I hope that a greater purpose, a mind for the people and unfailing perseverance can help perpetuate your collective light as it shines ever so brightly into the future.
Congratulations and best of luck!
Thank you.