‘We found our own courage to go on’ – Cyndy Swift
Cyndy Swift was one of three students from the Southern San Joaquin Valley chosen to deliver commencement addresses at that area’s Brandman University ceremony. The Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership attended classes at the Hanford campus. Here’s what she was scheduled to say:
Good evening administrators, staff members, distinguished guests, family, friends and my fellow graduates of the Class of 2017.
Looking out at the faces of my fellow graduates I see many different journeys represented. I see the businessman and businesswoman who began their educational journey towards career advancements. I see the young man and young woman who have set their sights on making their stamp in our world. I see the men and women who serve in our military and have used their down time to educate for their future careers. I see the father who lost his job and knew that this was his time to finish his education so he could better provide for his family. I see the woman who went through a heart-wrenching time personally and found herself needing to further her education so she could survive as she re-entered the corporate world.
While the journeys have been different, I know the path which brought each of us to this commencement ceremony this evening, has been somewhat the same. There was that one moment in time when as individuals looked deep within and the questions began to swell. For me, and I’m sure for many others, the questions sounded somewhat like this:
- I work 40 plus hours a week, when will I have time to study?
- With the high cost of living these days, how can I afford this?
- Everything has changed so much since I was last in school. Will I be able to keep up?
- Am I just dreaming or can I actually do this?
- Where do I even begin?
The next thing we knew we had registered for our first class and now the second wave of questions…
- What is this Blackboard where my class information is found and how do I get on there?
- How will I ever understand everything that I need to know about APA writing requirements?
- Did I remember to complete my main post by midnight on Wednesday or is it Thursday and/or … Was I supposed to post on two or three of my classmates’ post by Sunday?
Regardless of the reasons and in spite of all of the questions, we jumped in with both feet. Successfully rising out of those swells, we have arrived here this evening to celebrate our accomplishments.
To complete our journey, however, it took courage and determination.
The dictionary description of courage is the ability to do something that frightens one.
Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Fear did not stop us. We each found our own courage to take the first step, to press on when we felt like giving up and to shut out our own inner voice that tried to convince us we would fail so why try.
Checking again with the dictionary I found the meaning of determination as the firmness of purpose; resoluteness.
Tommy Lasorda said, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”
Each of us had our own sense of purpose for why we were on this path, however, we resolved to continue and in the face of what life threw at us, we determined to go on.
My fellow graduates, we have the right to celebrate what we have accomplished.
We have, regardless of our original purpose for beginning our journey, have become examples to those that will follow us through the halls of academia. Some who follow will be those we do not know and if we are lucky, we have become examples for those we do know such as our siblings, spouses, children and for those of us who are, should I say, “seasoned,” possibly even our grandchildren.
They will have the opportunity to join us as we become the future of tomorrow.
As I conclude, I would be amiss if I neglected to mention those that supported us along the journey. Without your unending encouragement during our times of need, we would not be here tonight. To you, we say, “Thank you for believing in us.”
Thank you for the privilege and honor of representing the graduating Class of 2017.
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