By Sonja Anderson, July 2022 Graduate Speaker
It’s an honor to be here and one that I could never have imagined. In fact, when I received the call from Liz Gutierrez telling me that I had been selected as the student speaker for today’s graduation, my first instinct was to ask her if she had called the right person. I was floored that not only had I been considered, but that I had been selected for this honor.
I didn’t start college because it was on my list of goals, but rather I started school for the simple reason that I was mad. I had applied for a job and I didn’t get it because I didn’t have a degree. The company that I interviewed with loved my work history and experience, but the position required a degree and I didn’t have one. I was disappointed and more than a bit upset; I felt defeated. But then, about a month later, I came across a Laurus College ad and it intrigued me, especially the idea that I could take online classes. When I made the call, my heart started racing and I realized that I was actually going to do this, I was going to go to school and get my degree. It wasn’t always easy, but I stayed because I enjoyed the challenge. And like you, here I am, four years later, a degree in hand—well, almost—and still stunned that I did it.
It’s hard to grasp the many challenges that I encountered between my first class and today. There were many sleepless nights, power outages, and wildfires. There were no vacations as I went from one term to the next. And who could have ever imagined that there would be a pandemic? But I made it through that and I also made it through I also made it thru losing my dad, who I wish could be here to see me graduate today. There have been hard times and loss, but there have been many successes and silver linings, too, such as getting to see the excitement of my family when they learned that I was selected for the honor of speaking here today. My family championed me on at every turn; I could not have done this without them. So, thank you.
And thank you to everyone at Laurus College for everything that you have done, not only for me but for all of us here today. Thank you to all of the instructors who shared their time, talent, and knowledge and for talking me off a cliff once or twice over a final I struggled to finish. I would especially like to thank both Ms. Miller and Ms. Stangeland—thank you for all of your help when the struggle was just too real.
I want to say that I am in awe of what we have all accomplished. At some point, each of us looked at ourselves as we walked thru this life and decided that we would cross that river called college when we got to it. We told ourselves that we would go back to finish school later or that there was plenty of time to before we had to start. When we finally began, we discovered that that river was wide and deep with terrifying rapids, but we learned that with determination, we were able to forge ahead. We may have hesitated, but we stayed the course and made it to the other side. So here we stand at the end of the journey and as we look back over our shoulders, that river doesn’t look that scary from this side. In fact, now, it actually looks kinda small. But the choice to step into the rushing water, the struggle to cross, the sleepless nights, the working of full-time jobs, the being a parent, the getting everything turned in and done—it was all worth it. We conquered that river. We overcame our fears and the adversity and we came out stronger for it.
Leaving here today is the start of a new journey in life and while the struggle isn’t over, it did just get easier. We learned all sorts of things in the pursuit of our degrees, but we also learned to dig deep and find our inner strength and to know that what we accomplished help us keep our heads held high as we tackle the next challenge. We achieved this goal which has taught us that we have the power to achieve great things and reach our full potential. Never give up on your dreams, accept the challenges head-on, and keep pushing towards the future.
Congratulations Laurus class of 2022!
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