There is something inspirational about attending Graduation and seeing young people, with passion, energy and dreams. Listening to the valedictorian took me back in time, six years and two days ago, when I graduated from Adult High School at age 37. I searched my computer for my valedictorian speech and am sharing it with you.
Every individual has a dream and a destiny. If your dream lies dormant, you are the only one standing in the way of fulfilling that dream. You alone hold the key that will make your dream become a reality. If you can overcome your fears and believe in yourself, you can overcome anything that stands between you and your dreams. All other obstacles will be your stepping stones, if you see them as an opportunity.
Each one of us must choose to unleash our dreams, but we cannot make them a reality without the help of others.
In life we cannot always choose our circumstances, however, in every circumstance we choose either to surrender or overcome. The difficulties we face in life have the potential of becoming our greatest assets, if we allow them to stimulate our creativity, challenge our determination, and have a positive affect on our lives.
To make this very practical I will share with you something that happened as I was redecorating our master bedroom. I was painting when I turned and tripped against an open one-gallon bucket of red paint and left our carpet looking like a violent crime scene.
After 10 minutes of shock and frustration, I put my arms around my husband and said, “Well, we’re finally going to have that beautiful hardwood floor I wanted.”
Life, for many of us, has been like a bucket of red paint spilled all over the floor, and we have decided that now is the time to do something positive about it, and write the happy ending to our story.
For many years I dreamed of earning my high school diploma but fear held me back. I doubted myself and my ability to succeed, and above all I feared failure. Coming from an abusive home, where the importance of education was minimized; and a school where many of the teachers had no passion for teaching, I was left to believe that I was stupid and incompetent. This belief held me prisoner until about seven years ago when I started doing online IQ quizzes to test myself in an environment where no one would know if I failed. Little by little, my confidence grew and I realized that I was held back by lies. I started to replace those lies with the realization that I was capable of accomplishing anything I set my heart and passion to doing.
Four years ago I faced my fears publicly and took the GED tests to earn my high school equivalency diploma. I discovered that in facing one fear I found the courage to face the next and I soon registered at the Open Door Waterloo Campus to do my Grade 12 English – just to prove to myself that I could do it.
I want to thank my teacher, Ms. Forwell, for staying after class to answer my questions, and most of all for believing in me and encouraging me through that first course at the Open Door. She gave me a profound gift – it was the first time in my life that a teacher believed in me the way she did. Having successfully completed this course I met with the guidance counsellor and discovered I only needed 3 more credits.
I realized then that I couldn’t afford to pass up the opportunity to officially earn my diploma.
I completed my Biology and Chemistry November 2006 and was two weeks into earning my co-op credit, when I had a sudden heart attack , that we believe was caused by medication I was taking. However, because my job allowed me to work from home, and thanks to the fact that I was able to continue my co-op assignments at home and hand them in, even this did not stop me from finishing my final credit. In early January 2007 I handed in my final assignments.
Each one of us has a story. For various reasons, and at different ages and stages of our lives, we have chosen to complete our high school education at the Open Door Centre For Learning. Some of us were not given the opportunity to finish high school in our teens, and some of us chose to drop out. However, we all have one thing in common and that is our determination to finish and earn our diplomas. It took many hours of studying and I applaud each of you for your dedication and hard work.
I could not have done this without some key people and I would like to take a moment to thank each of them.
First of all I would like to acknowledge my husband for his incredible support. Thank you for carrying more than your share of responsibility at home so that I could study and get the most out of my courses. I also want to honour my five children, who are not here tonight, for sacrificing a lot of time with Mommy so that I could study.
In closing I would like to leave you with a few thoughts to inspire and challenge you as you leave tonight.
- Always believe in yourself and never give up.
- When you look back on your life, celebrate your accomplishments and learn from your mistakes.
- Pursue your dreams with passion and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.
© Trudy Metzger 2012