Maribel Lopez long dreamed of earning her Bachelor of Arts, Legal Studies. This year, she earned it and the right to give the undergraduate commencement address at the Southern Commencement for the School of Arts ad Sciences and Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions. According to Terry Hadfield, her academic advisor at the Irvine campus, Lopez aced every class and exceeded course expectations every session while staying on track with her work and family commitments. Here’s what she prepared to deliver Sunday, May 21.
Good evening honored guests, family, friends and the graduating Class of 2017. Thank you to all of you who came out to support our graduating class today.
Class of 2017, you have probably been congratulated a thousand times already today. But we have worked pretty hard to get here, so one more time couldn’t hurt.
Congratulations. We did it.
Graduation day is a time where we reflect upon yesterday, appreciate today, and anticipate tomorrow. When I think about what this day means to me, I can’t help but think about the long road it took to get here. Earning a college degree as an adult learner comes with both successes and its challenges and I’m sure every single student of this graduating class has experienced both.
If I’m being honest, I thought this day would come for me about eight years ago. The road to obtaining my degree didn’t quite go the way I ever thought it would. Fresh out of high school I began my college education at 18 years old and was confident I would obtain my bachelor’s four years later.
Things, however, did not turn out that way. My father passed away my first semester in college and without much of a choice, I dropped out of college in order to work full time and support my mother and myself. As hard as that was, I was fortunate and blessed to find a job that supported me since that moment until today. Although I have a wonderful job and a career I enjoy very much, deep down I knew I wanted to…no, I needed to…continue my education and obtain a degree.
The years went by and as life would have it, challenges came along that would push me farther and farther away from continuing my education. It wasn’t until a year and nine months ago I decided my education could no longer wait and I needed to take that important, yet at the same time, scary step, in pursuing my education.
I am certain every single student here has had their unique road and story in their journey to continue their education. Being an adult learner is not an easy task, especially when many of us have a full-time job, have families to raise and take care of, and countless of other responsibilities we have as adults. As adult learners, we face challenges every day. Challenges such as finding the time to juggle a full plate of work and working on a research paper at the same time or choosing whether we sleep five hours or pull an all-nighter in order to get that 10-page paper done. However, those challenges also come with wonderful successes such as getting that A on the midterm or getting that research paper done on time and actually enjoyed doing it! Being an adult learner is no easy task, but it sure is worth it.
I feel extremely fortunate to have attended Brandman University for my continuing education. The guidance and flexibility Brandman offers to each one of its students made it possible for all us to continue our education. The distinguished faculty at Brandman and their dedication to their students as well as the administration have made it possible for us students to overcome the challenges we faced and helped us bring our educational goals to fruition. On behalf of the graduating class of 2017, thank you, Brandman University for everything you have done for us over these years. Because of you, we are prepared to succeed.
To our family, friends and loved ones, thank you for the incredible support you have given to us students. Although we might not always say it or show it, your love and support were guiding forces in this journey. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made as well in order for us to be here today.
To borrow the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Class of 2017, you are an outstanding class, a distinguished class, a formidable class who will undoubtedly use their good head and good heart to become extraordinary leaders.
Thank you and Congratulations Class of 2017!
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