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Nursing Graduation Speech

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When I made the decision to return to school for my Bachelor's degree, all those who had gone before issued me nothing short of a surgeon general's warning: your life as you know it is over ... in nursing terms, I could visualize a flat EKG line without any peaks or rhythm. That sounded like trouble to me!

I accepted returning to school as a challenge and promptly organized my life into what I thought would be a simplified, manageable existence. Like all of you, I restructured my home budget and explained to my husband that life as we knew it was over ... my roles as wife, nurse, employee, friend, student, cook, housekeeper, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, cousin, niece and granddaughter -- all at once -- became impossible. For once in my life, I was glad to NOT be a parent!

My fellow nursing students all agreed that yes, life was over. Our instructors corroborated that "life as we knew it was over," but only for a time. We students had some incredible pity parties surrounding the theme "our life is over." There we were, paying $100 per credit to have the privilege of complaining about our choice.

Throughout the next several quarters, I watched my fellow students' lives and saw that none of what makes a life was over. We gathered together in support of one another when someone's kid broke their arm, family members were taken suddenly in an auto accident, divorce ended a marriage, illness prevented class attendance, babies were born and weddings went on. We were able to balance family, school and work commitments by simply juggling our days and supporting one another.

It was during my final quarter at Bothell that life events were the most challenging. I was juggling 20 hours a week of work, 16 h...

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...n of my degree at Bothell. I, like you, had accomplished what seemed like an impossible task ... balancing all of life's commitments with those of returning to school. I found that my EKG had its most active lines of peaks and rhythms rather than going flat for even a time!

Today, as we graduate, with degree nearly in hand, I challenge each of you to make a difference in whatever you do. Remember that life didn't end when we re-entered school. Life continued throughout our program. Even when stretched to the limit, life only got more challenging. And now, graduating, life only changes pace. Our degree completion is not really an ending as much as a new beginning as we re-enter our lives of work and home. We thank all of our family, friends, instructors and co-workers who helped see us through this process. Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to you all.

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