For the class of 2012, this is our night to shine, to pat ourselves on the back, to say "Well done. Good job." And as we take center stage to receive our degrees we are also going to lift the curtain and recognize the people behind the scenes. People like the three individuals I am now going to tell you about. Though you may never have personally met any of them, I am certain you have met people like them in your careers as students. They are the embodiment of why we are here tonight.
Her name is Mary. She was born towards the end of the Great Depression and, while still very young, she contracted polio. Now, imagine if you can, what it is like to live in the shadow of an illness that substantially impairs your ability walk without pain or climb a flight of stairs without handrails or assistance. What would you do? How would you live your life? Mary stepped out of the shadow and endeavored to live life beyond any physical limitation. When her three children had grown and moved away, when her foster children had all found permanent homes, she enrolled in college. Reaching for what others said would be impossible, she graduated with honors from Stoll Community College 35 years ago. Two year...
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... word. Most importantly, thank them for the unconditional love they continue to show. Mom, thank you for everything, I love you very much. Mi esposa, mi BeBe, te quero mucho. Feliz aniversario.
Later, when all of tonight's excitement and nervousness has subsided, thank yourself. You have earned it. To graduate is a great accomplishment; whether you started ten or two years ago matters not, what matters is the determination and hard work that brought you to this moment. Your moment to shine.
And so, as you prepare to walk through a new door, as you set new and challenging goals for yourselves, remember to keep your eyes focused forward because the future is sure to be adventurous, full of laughter, hope, achievement, gratitude, and inspiration. Congratulations to the class of 2006 on this, the sixtieth anniversary of commencement for Stoll Community College.
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