Student Speaker: Cheryl Hunt
It is an honor to be standing before you as a representative of the Class of 2010. We are a large and vastly diverse group. We are wrapping up the first decade of a new century and we are facing challenges unique to our time in history. There are so many events happening to change the world as we know it. A new generation will soon take on the task of shaping the future. As a member of the older generation attending Edmonds Community College, I have come away with a new understanding, respect, and appreciation for the difficult task facing all of us in the years ahead.
The recent economic downturn has been a trial for everyone and yet, it is at this time, that so many have chosen to forge ahead and try to find new ways to succeed. As we enter today's job market, we face many challenges. However, the tools we have been given through our studies will have prepared us to go boldly forward and take our place with confidence and determination to make a difference. No matter our age, we have an obligation to build the future for the generations to come after us.
Each of us has come to this point in our lives for different reasons. Each of us has faced a challenge of one kind or another in order to achieve the success we celebrate today. Some have come from thousands of miles away, some because of job loss, others due to injuries. But we all came with the same dream-the chance to make a better life for ourselves and our families.
I graduated high school in 1969, married and started a family as so many young women of my generation did. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 40 years, I have two fantastic children, and I am the extremely proud grandmother of two of the most adorable little boys in the world. So you may wonder-what am I doing in college at my age?!!!!
I never expected to return to school. I spent nearly 20 years at my last occupation. I drove a school bus and as crazy as it sounds, I really loved that job. Have you ever heard the saying "if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life." (It's a quote by Confucius.) That was how I felt about school bus driving. I expected to retire from that job and spend my later years traveling with my husband. But life threw us a curve ball and I was seriously injured on the job. Instead of retirement, I found myself facing a couple of major surgeries and three years of physical therapy; then, returning to school and opening a wholly new and unexpected chapter in my life.
This new chapter has been an adventure beyond anything I could have imagined. Nothing was as I thought it would be. Subjects I had studied and excelled at in high school had whole new sets of rules. Business English was a real eye-opener. And it was my very first class. When I made it through that class, I knew I could meet any challenge that came my way. This has been one of the most exhilarating and exciting times of my life. I have learned so many new things. My first computer class was so intimidating. At that time, I didn't even know how to cut and paste. I have learned to do Word, Access, Power Point, and I have found I really enjoy working with the computer; it is exciting.
My time here has deepened my appreciation for life and the world in which we live. I have made friends with students of all ages and from all walks of life, among them, Mohamed, an awesome young man from Egypt; and Sofie and Tomoko, two lovely young ladies from Cambodia and Japan. These young people would never have crossed my path but for my time here. So I am very grateful for the opportunity I was afforded when I shared classes with them.
Returning to school has, also, given me a sense of myself that I think I had lost over the years. As a wife, mother, and grandmother, you know what you do has value, but it's always tied to the accomplishments of others. School has renewed my self-esteem and my determination to make a difference. It has given me the confidence to try new things without the fear of failure because it taught me that you only fail if you don't try.
Each day is a gift and we are blessed to have the freedom to pursue our dreams and expand our knowledge. We need to grab hold with both hands and say, "I can do this!" When my doctor finally released me to go to school, I was so excited. I badgered my vocational counselor until he put together my retraining plan and we were walking in the doors of student enrollment. Then I got cold feet-I'm too old, I can't learn, what was I thinking? John grabbed my arm and said "Yes, you can, you can do it. You don't have a choice. You have to do it!" Look at me now.
I want my accomplishments here to be an inspiration and a lesson to my children and my grandchildren that you are never too old to learn. I want them to know that the only obstacles any of us face are the ones we create.
Knowledge gives you power and sets you free to accomplish anything you are willing to try. Therefore, I challenge each member of this class-look forward, continue to learn, make a difference and always remember you were part of a very special group of people, The Graduating Class of Edmonds Community College, 2010.