Student Speaker: Kristina Madden

Kristina Madden Kristina graduates with her Associate in Pre-Nursing Degree. She started as a Running Start student in her junior year of high school, then later returned to Edmonds Community College in EdCAP, a program which provides an opportunity for young adults ages 16-21 to earn a high school diploma in a college environment.

"I always knew I wanted to finish my diploma and pre-nursing degree. While raising my children, I was starting to miss school and I began looking for ways to make it possible," she said.

Despite the challenge of attending school as a breastfeeding mom and as a working mother of three, Kristina excelled in college. On campus childcare at the Center for Families helped her find time to study. She took Honors classes, did special projects such as studying the immunobiology of breast milk, and discovered her passion for research.

This spring, she earned a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, a prestigious national honor.

Kristina works as a breastfeeding counselor for the state's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC Program). On campus, she has been leading an effort to open a lactation room on campus--a safe place for student-mothers of infants to breastfeed.

Her advice to future students: "Don't limit yourself and don't let anyone else limit you. Find your passion. If you are doing what you love, it will be so much easier and more beneficial."

This fall, Kristina will enter the University of Washington's School of Nursing. Her goal is a Doctor of Nursing Practice in neonatology and maternal child health.

Kristina Madden: Commencement 2012 Speech

Kristina Madden

Welcome graduating class of 2012! What an exciting day as we rejoice together in this momentous step in our lives. Welcome to the family, friends, and loved ones; who have supported and cheered on this fine group of scholars throughout their journey. And welcome to the staff and faculty, who have invested their time, commitment, and invaluable skills into the minds and lives of this assembly of students.

And what an assembly we are...we are first time college grads, we are post baccalaureates, we are high school students, we are women, men, parents, grandparents; we are people from down the street and from all over the world; from all walks of life. What an assembly we are!

Along with the immeasurable joy and pride in this room, comes a bittersweet reminder of how we got here today. Some of you, like me, have been waiting for this day for a long time. Here at the end of my journey at Edmonds, I can’t help but look back at the memories I have made: meeting great friends, memories of hanging out in the Learning Support Center, welcome back BBQs, and Brier Cafe...two words: waffle fries.  I look back at my cherished memories and remember the first time I set foot on the Edmonds campus...

I started at Edmonds Community College in the fall of 2006 as a running start student. I was 16 years old, and I was pregnant with my second child.

This made my college career different than most, but initially it didn’t stop me. Determined, I powered through my first year. But eventually, life caught up to me, and after welcoming my second child I decided to take a quarter off. That quarter turned into three years. I settled into being a mom, working, and raising my family.

The entire time I was out of school, I longed to return. I knew the only way to accomplish my dreams and make a better life for my family would be to go back to school; but it always seemed like the wrong time. I didn’t finish my high school diploma before I dropped out, and being a mom of three young kids left me with not only financial obstacles, but childcare and family issues as well. It seemed it would never be possible, but finally my urge to return to school led me to seek out options and I found the EdCAP program.

EdCAP made it possible for me to attend school, but I still had to get over the mental hurdle of coming back to school after being away and with all the added stresses of having a young family at a young age. I didn’t want to be another statistic; I didn’t want what was supposed to be normal for a “girl like me”. I decided then I wasn’t going to let anything limit me.

I decided to give it my all, and then I found the honors program. This program has been the highlight of my time at Edmonds. Through this program I discovered passions I didn’t know I had, and I have gained skills and experience that are relevant to my future education and career. The best part has been the time I have spent with my instructors. The time and dedication they have poured into me will have lasting effects on my life. They have taught me so many things through their vast knowledge and deep respect for science. This program has opened so many doors for me, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it.

My hard work and experiences paid off in the end; I earned a prestigious scholarship that will make continuing my education at my dream school possible. I got accepted into the University of Washington’s School of Nursing, the program I’ve been dreaming of since I came here. I am now at a wonderful and exciting crossroad of my life. This day didn’t come easy, but it came.

My hope for you, class of 2012, is that you will recognize the beauty and value of our diversity. We all have different and amazing passions and talents within us. We each have an inspiring story. My hope is that if you have not already found your passion, that you will seek it. Recognize your potential, your influence. No matter where you come from or where you’re going, you have the ability to touch the world around you. And you don’t have to wait until you become something great, you only need decide.

In the words of Anne Frank, “How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.”  

While I hope that my story may inspire some, I can’t even begin to take credit for what I’ve accomplished. I wouldn’t be here today at all if it weren’t for the love and grace of God, the enormous support of my family, and the encouragement and prayers of my friends. I give special thanks to my beautiful children -- Emelie, Elijah, and Judah -- they have given me the greatest gift in being their mother and have been my driving motivation through so many hard times.

As we end this marvelous chapter in our lives and as we move onto greater paths -- wherever those paths may be -- let us not forget that no matter who you are, where you come from, or where you’re going, you have something in you that will drive you to your destiny, if you only let it.

Congratulations class of 2012!!!!!!