Student Spotlight

South San Joaquin Valley commencement 2019

June 08, 2019 by Victoria Lim

Brandman University wrapped up its 2019 commencement season with the South San Joaquin Valley commencement in Visalia on June 7. Only 14% of Tulare county and 13% of Kings county residents have bachelor degrees, and among the 424 graduates of Brandman’s Central Valley Class of 2019 was undergraduate speaker Maria Robles. A single mother, she earned her Bachelor of Arts Sociology while working full time with the California Department of Corrections.

Here are Robles’ remarks:

Good evening classmates, faculty, family, and friends. Thank you all for being here on such a joyous and important occasion.

Going back to school as an adult learner is a challenge all its own. Truth be told, I never had a plan for going to college. I graduated from Coalinga High School in 2005. Seven years later I graduated from West Hills College and earned my Associates of Science in Administration of Justice/Law Enforcement. Another Seven years later here I am graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. I must have a thing for sevens - lucky sevens that is. I am very lucky and blessed in my life.  Working full time in the department of corrections and being a single mother, I was quite skeptical about going back to school. I chose to do so because I wanted to continue succeeding in life and be a role model for my daughter, Isabella, my saving grace.

The past two years of my life at Brandman have flown by. I dedicated myself to education and challenged myself to do my absolute best. I purchased my first home on my own right about the same time as I began with Brandman University. It was both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I learned many new things about myself and continued to be driven no matter what hardships I endured. I never quit; it has never been an option for me. I have taken many hits from life over and over; I have fallen but I kept getting up each time and moving forward to prevail. I set goals, I conquered them. To me it is all about how you respond in order to overcome adversity and trying times. As Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” I will never accept defeat.

Brandman University helped me to overcome any challenges by always being supportive of me. The faculty have been a tremendous help and always had patience for any questions that I had when I did not understand something. Mr. Marshall Pipkin is a wonderful advisor and made me feel welcome and I appreciate his patience when working on my education plan. Dr. Murti, Associate Professor of Sociology had the biggest impact on me. I learned so much from her and she empowered me. She challenged me to learn and showed me a side of sociology which I did not know in the past. Dr. Murti has given me the confidence that is much needed for a woman who is seeking a career in a male dominated environment. She has shown me that anything is possible. Through trials and tribulations, I must not give up. 

Thank you so much to my family and friends for always believing in me and giving me the support I needed. I would also like to congratulate a fellow student, Toni Debem who is here with us today graduating with a Master’s of Science in Human Resources. Toni is a family friend whom I have known since I was five-years -old. We have not seen each other since I was a kid; it is great to be meeting again after many years and at our graduation of all places. Toni is a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. Thank you for your service, Toni.

A wise doctor once told me that an investment in education is the best investment one can make. For anyone who is skeptical about going back to school as an adult I want to leave you with this information: if you think you want to go to college but believe it is too expensive, think about it this way - people are willing to pay $20,000 plus for a vehicle which in time will fall apart and which will deteriorate; but an education will never fall apart, nor deteriorate. It will only drive you further in life.

My journey does not end here, for my master’s degree in social work at Brandman University will be my next goal.

Congratulations to the Brandman University class of 2019. We did it! 



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