‘You inspired me and helped me find what kind of teacher was inside me’ – Therese Cardamon
Therese Cardamon’s journey to Brandman University started with a move to the Central Valley from the East Coast. Now it includes earning her M.A. in Teaching from the Hanford campus and being selected to give a commencement address at the university’s Southern San Joaquin Valley ceremony. Here’s what she planned to say:
Thank you, campus administrators, faculty, graduates, colleagues, family and friends. It is my distinct pleasure and true honor to have the opportunity to address you today.
As I look out into the crowd I cannot help but feel fulfilled in sharing this milestone of achievement with you. We bravely followed our dreams to change not only our life but the lives of every student we meet. This choice is not something to be taken lightly. Today is our day. We took on the roles of educator, mentor, student, friend, parent; we worked late to meet deadlines, we made sacrifices, we juggled our personal lives with professional and made mistakes. These challenges have made us grow and change in ways that we would have never expected. We continue to find success because as we all know there is no such thing as failure, just a new way to look and approach an opportunity.
My journey may be slightly different in how I found Brandman compared to yours but today, we can proudly sit here knowing we endured and conquered. I moved from the East Coast to embark on a new journey, giving up my professional career of dancing to take a full-time teaching position in a foreign land of the Central Valley in California. I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for a 10-month deployment, hoping no student, staff or administrator would notice my terror in teaching in a public school. With no family or friends close by I embarked on this teaching credential and master’s program filled with tears, heartbreak, determination and discovering who I really am. I know we can all relate when I state that my first year of teaching felt like a fiery train wreck. It was overwhelming to learn all the acronyms for forms to be filled, attending meetings to discuss the importance of what our district expects in our classroom, figuring out how to communicate with parents, learning all of our students and meeting their very diverse needs in over populated classrooms; it seemed endless in constantly brainstorming new ways on how to make each situation work while adding the task of going back to school and trying to be a positive role model. I felt lost most days. I was angry that I gave up my time and passion of dancing to be a full-time teacher. I was frustrated that my students weren’t giving me their dedication to learning. I was disappointed my overworked administration wasn’t supporting me or my challenging students. I wanted to quit. I would fantasize about packing up my car with my cats and driving to the beach where I would live until my husband would return and then I would figure out my life.
But that’s when something amazing happened. You came into my life. You bravely told your story in an Adobe Connect class, asked questions, and asked for help. I listened to each of you share your successes and setbacks. You shared tips, tools, websites, games, strategies, stories and supported one another. You inspired me and helped me find what kind of teacher was inside of me and who I wanted to become. It was in that moment that I saw a choice, I could either survive or thrive in teaching. And just like you sitting here today, I chose to thrive.
To our parents, spouses, children, family members and friends, I thank you for your endless support when our lives became very expensive and difficult. You helped us find our way here today. To my graduate friends, keep fighting the good fight. Teaching is an adventure that requires faith, love and courage. Take as many classes and opportunities that come your way. Never stop dreaming, setting goals, believing in one another and most importantly, yourself.
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