A lot has been said about the importance of marks scored in an examination and what they say, or don’t, about a student. At an event organised by All India Marwari Mahila Samiti last week in Kolkata to felicitate girl students who scored 98 per cent or more in their board exams this year, US consul general Melinda Pavek summed it up succinctly when she elaborated on why marks on test papers weren’t a reflection of the value of a life. The true value of these tests, she said, was in the preparation rather than the scores themselves.
My Kolkata is sharing the full text of her speech that espouses an idea that deserves iteration not merely among students, but also parents and teachers.
US consul general Melinda Pavek addresses the gathering at Excellence Award 2023 organised by All India Marwari Mahila Samiti in KolkataMy Kolkata
“Congratulations to the dedicated students who worked in a hard and dedicated way to prepare for their exams. I am so proud of you. I know you are going to achieve much success in your life.
Note that I did not limit my remarks to students who achieved high scores. Why? Because score marks on test papers are NOT a reflection of the value of a life. The value we get from these tests are in the preparation rather than the scores themselves. For, it is in the preparation that we learn to focus our attention, manage our time, identify the priority topics, understand how our brains learn, and overcome the day-to-day challenges we have to learn. We develop the grit, values, and self-esteem from tackling something difficult and seeing it through to completion. So the value of these tests is not really in the score you achieve, but rather in the person you become as a result of the work you did when you gave it your best effort. If you can look in the mirror and truly believe that you gave it your best effort, then you should pat yourself on the back and be proud. Because real education in life is not about competition with others, it is about competition with yourself and how you can get better and stronger over time.
Ask for advice and seek help when you need it. No one in the world has done everything on their own.
You may be questioning this message of pride if you did not achieve the test score you wanted. But let me raise the example of a person who cheats on the exam and gets an amazing score. That person may get the temporary benefit of getting into a specific school or getting a specific scholarship, but they also carry the knowledge inside that they cheated.That is a weight the person will carry for life.That weight will get heavier and heavier, making them weaker and weaker, rather than stronger. Deciding to give something our own best effort and coaching ourselves to take the needed steps toward our goal is how we get stronger, how we become our own internal cheerleader, and how we uplift ourselves and those around us. And that, dear students, is the way you shape a life you enjoy living, and one that helps you achieve your full potential.
‘The best networking advice I ever received was to ask new people I meet a question and then listen to their answer’
As you do so, I have a few short words of advice:
1. Networking is not a dirty word. Networking is about connecting with people to build relationships mutually. The best networking advice I ever received was to ask new people I meet a question and then listen to their answer. “What are you excited about now?” is a great general question. Hearing the answer can help you learn new things about that person and their interests and see how you might help them, either in ideas, energy, knowledge, or even tangible items. Curiosity helps build your core skills and prepare you for lifelong learning. Your network of like minded students, for example, can share experiences, learnings, and coping and success strategies. But don’t limit your network to only people who are just like you. The great diversity of people in the world can give you a great diversity of perspectives, but you must seek intentionally to expand your network.
2. My next piece of advice is to ask for advice and seek help when you need it. No one in the world has done everything on their own. We can all benefit from the resources provided by our communities, governments, and world. As a part of your learning, you have learned to do research. When you encounter challenges you don’t know how to solve, put those research skills to work to find programs that can assist you, people who can give you advice, and little known resources that have value to you.
3. Finally, know your worth and value. Learn financial management and savings skills early. Having your own financial resources can save you from bad situations and allow you to take opportunities that come your way. Whether you work in a traditional job or become an entrepreneur, know what the going wage or price is and learn the negotiation skills to achieve it. And remember that worth and value is not always financial, action, or giving to others. Know the value of retreating, resting, breathing, planning, and rebuilding. The journey of life is often a winding road, and one must enjoy the view along the way.
Congratulations again! I look forward to seeing the better world that you build by bringing your full potential to each challenge and opportunity that presents itself along your journey.”
Over 100 girl students from various Kolkata schools were felicitated by the All-India Marwari Mahila Samiti at Excellence Award 2023 on Saturday, July 15. Hosted by Alka Bangur, the president of the samiti, among the others present were Dr Soma Bandopadhyay, chancellor, B.R. Ambedkar Education University; Madhu Neotia, entrepreneur and activist; and various office-bearers of the samiti that works for the betterment of society.