Congratulations on making it this far. Today you proved that for 13 (or 14 if you attended Nursery school) years, you had a specific goal and you worked hard to get here. There may have been times where you wanted to quit, and you nearly did, but instead you faced your obstacles head on and decided to keep going. Today, we celebrate you.
Twelve years ago today I walked across a stage to receive my diploma and started my future. I was excited. The fourteen years of hard work finally paid off, and man, was it worth it. There were days where I wanted to quit, give up, drop out. Each time I struggled I thought of a wonderful quote, from a wonderful man, who gave me the hope and courage to continue on.
“There is nothing you can’t do, if you set your mind to it. Anything is possible.”
Isn’t that something? I first time heard him speak those words was during his 1985 Man In Motion tour. I was barely four years old and I turned to my parents to tell them that he was my hero. It’s just a few words that he spoke, but few words that stuck with me all these years. Rick is a paraplegic since an accident at the age of 15. Here he was, wheeling across Canada (and he even took it across the world), showing that life gives you obstacles but it doesn’t matter what they are… you can go right through them instead of around them. I was four… and that’s what I took from it.
So when I was down because I couldn’t figure out a math equation or bullied because I was smarter than everyone else, I thought of him and how hard he worked to bust through the obstacles. I set a goal to finish my education and by golly, I did it. I might have been sick with chicken pox the day of graduation, but I went anyways (after much crying from me and coaxing from my parents) and accepted that piece of paper that means so much to me. And I feel the same way about my university diploma. One day it will be mine and the meaning behind that parchment paper is that I worked hard, fought hard and despite my obstacles… I finally completed my degree.
With out a doubt I know that each of you have faced obstacles throughout the years of your formal education. Who hasn’t? But it goes to show that you worked extremely hard to get to this very point and you should be extremely proud of yourself. Some of you overcame adversity, extreme situations, and by sitting here today you’re showing everyone that you were able to accomplish something. Something that you should be proud of.
Now it’s time to look towards the future. Where do you see yourself in twelve years? What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals and how are you going to obtain them? Will you be a policeman, a teacher, an architect or a multi-million dollar mogul?
In life you will face failures and it is okay. In order to learn a valuable lesson, first, you must make a mistake. When you fall, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Keep your chin up and carry on. Admit defeat and move on. But never, ever, give up. It does not matter if you make the same mistake two, three or even ten times… but as long as you try and you learn something from it, that hard work will all be worth it.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not worth it or that you cannot do it (or anything). We are not worthless, we are all worth something. We all have value and while it might not have a monetary amount attached to it, it is indeed priceless, but worth it. We are all born into this world with something to give and once you share it with the world, the rewards are amazing.
If you take anything away from this, just let it be known, that you are spectacular and let your fabulosity shine. No matter what you do after today, be it university, enter a trade, backpack through Europe or fish for the rest of your life… let it be known that you’re worth all the hard work that you’ve accomplished, all the dreams you’ve set for yourself and all the stars in the sky that help you shine. You are your own person and you should be very proud of where you are today because you will need to be proud of where you go tomorrow.
Congratulations Class of 2012. Work hard and shine on.