Friday, August 2, 2019

Graduation Speech: Take Off Your Masks :: Graduation Speech, Commencement Address

What an honor to be standing here tonight as a representative of the Class of 2012! It's truly remarkable. We have all worked very hard to complete this part of our journey. I want to thank my kids Laddie, and Mate. And especially Ron, my loving companion. Without the support of our families, friends, fellow-classmates, instructors and staff, we wouldn't have made it this far! Let's show 'em our appreciation. These three certificates I'm receiving tonight represent a lot more to me than achievement of success. They are the keys that unlocked the door to a whole new world of possibility that I never new existed. I'd like to begin with an Arabian proverb: Strange how much you've got to know, before you know how little you know. Two years ago, I was a single mother of four, with a learning disability and 15 years of sobriety. I began experiencing anxiety attacks so I ceased operation of a non-profit organization I founded and ran for 10 years called the Family Support Network. Even though I had received a number of prestigious awards and been recognized nationally for my work, I resigned myself to being a clerical assistant for the rest of my life. Though I had dreamed of going to college, it was simply out of the question. It was at this juncture in my life that something happened that I initially perceived as a tragic event, but it turned out to be a turning point in my life. The mask I wore for so many years that covered my fears and insecurities about myself was removed, and I finally had an explanation for my quirky behaviors. One day I collapsed on the job and was hospitalized - not in a regular hospital but in a psychiatric hospital. The doctors diagnosed my symptoms as post traumatic stress disorder. In addition, I was also diagnosed with a mood and anxiety disorder. My self-esteem and outlook on life was at an all time low. It was at this point I hit bottom - and to my surprise this became the beginning of my journey to fulfill my destiny. My doctor in her infinite wisdom suggested I supplement my therapy by taking classes in mental health and chemical dependency here at the college. I'm sure by now you are wondering why I am sharing such intimate details about myself. My intent is to inspire and challenge you at the same time.

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