South San Joaquin Valley 2019 Commencement Graduate Speaker
After a life-long love of learning, the 2019 South San Joaquin Valley commencement graduate speaker retired from the classroom but never lost her pursuit of knowledge. Sarah Loring, Ed.D. encouraged her fellow graduates to continue to evolve and become global leaders.
Here are her remarks:
Good evening. First, I give thanks to God who was my strength and guide throughout this doctoral journey. Next, I want to thank Sonia Gutierrez-Mendoza, director of the Brandman Visalia and Lemoore campuses, for the opportunity to represent the doctoral graduates this evening. Dr. Guadalupe Solis, my cohort mentor and dissertation chair—thank you for all the time you invested in my successful completion of this journey. To my Visalia Delta Cohort sisters, a very special group of ladies, I also say thank you because without you my dissertation journey would have been a “mission impossible”! I want to also thank all of the Brandman University staff and faculty for the wonderful support you provide students to ensure their success. Finally, to the most important group present today—the families of the graduates, the parents, spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren and friends who were there to encourage each of us to stay the course when we wanted to abort the mission, thank you. Thank you for coming to share this momentous occasion in our lives. You are truly the wind beneath our wings!
I want to share a glimpse into my family background. In the late 40’s my parents migrated to the west coast from the south in pursuit of a higher standard of living for their offspring. Following a 13-month stay in Portland Oregon, our family moved on to settle in the San Joaquin Valley. My parents came as farm laborers seeking a better life for their children. My mother’s dream was for her children to at least complete high school. Mom’s belief mirrored that of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Standing firm in that belief she encouraged and supported our scholastic efforts. When my sister made the decision that she could better help the family by quitting school and working, Mom’s response was a resounding “NO”.
As a small child I always had a great love for reading and the knowledge and adventures that it produced. I was a dreamer and still am a dreamer. Literature made it possible for me to have adventures in far and distant lands. My sister Minnie was my first teacher. She taught me all the basic concepts prior to my entering the public-school system. In first grade my reading skills opened the door for my first instructional position, peer tutor. The impression my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Trout, at Pixley Elementary school made on me and the joy of helping others learn sparked a desire in me to become an educator. It took me years to attain that goal, but I never lost sight of the dream.
After years of working as an executive secretary, I enrolled in Chapman University, completed my education and began to teach. Yes! I was finally living the dream. I taught sixth grade at Earlimart Middle School for 12 years prior to retiring. I followed the example of my first grade teacher and successfully used peer tutoring with my students.
Let me now turn my focus on the graduates and congratulate each of you on the accomplishment you achieved through hard work and perseverance. To my fellow doctorate recipients, I also say congratulations. We made numerous sacrifices to attain our goal. We spent many hours in study and research, collecting data, analyzing data, writing and rewriting until we produced a product approved by our chair and committee that met the Brandman standard of excellence. On this doctoral journey we mastered the art of seeing the glass half full, of extending boundaries, of not accepting the status quo and of finding new realities.
In a world that is is constantly changing - ever evolving, we must also be constantly changing and ever evolving to keep abreast of societal and world affairs. In the age we are living in standards and norms are changing at an extremely rapid pace. We must refuse to sit on the sidelines and watch change happen all around us without being a part of that change. Rather than complain about the changes we don’t agree with, we must decide to do as Mahatma Gandhi advised, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The digital age has brought the world closer together creating a new global community, replacing the local and national community. As leaders we must also transform. As recipients of doctorates from Brandman University we are empowered as transformational leaders to be the change that we wish to see in the world. We are empowered transformational leaders who can step out and act on the words of President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We are empowered transformational leaders who create change and leave legacies.
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