I am a high school drop out.
There I said it. I've never had a graduation before....I've never walked the stage on nervous knees to grasp a diploma, amidst the wild cheering of my family in the audience.
My senior year of high school was kind of a nightmare. I was heartbroken. I was an emotional train wreck. And I was facing the darkest period of my life. Quite honestly, surviving each day was all that was truly in my capabilities to accomplish.
Dropping out (or getting kicked out, rather) wasn't really a surprise. Not to me and I'm sure not to anyone else.
Sitting in the audience during other graduation ceremonies was heart breaking in later days....knowing that I lost the opportunity to make that walk across the stage and take the diploma, smiling ear to ear. The feeling of accomplishment was lost. That dream had died.
Last night was the culmination of a whole lot of dreams, which rose from the ashes left behind back in 1996. As I walked across that stage, radiantly beaming, knowing that my babies were in the audience watching, a sense of coming full circle washed over me. I FINALLY WAS WEARING THAT CAP AND GOWN...I WAS FINALLY WALKING ACROSS THE STAGE THAT SO MANY IN MY FAMILY HAD WALKED BEFORE ME! Knowing in my heart what I have overcome to be there on that stage last night made me even more proud to be there. I know there were a whole lot of people who felt just as I did...but I gotta say that I don't think any of them was as proud as me.
Like the phoenix, I have risen from the ashes.
I could never have made it this far without the love and support of my family and many friends. Your belief in me, even when I didn't believe in myself, has given me the faith to keep going when many thought that I would fail. Those yellow cords around my neck are the culmination of your encouragement...your quiet voices telling me that I am smart enough, strong enough, and determined enough to beat the odds and not just slide through with good enough, but EXCEL. I love you all and words can't adequately describe how much you all mean to me. As cheesy as it may sound, this degree..that walk across the stage that many of you waited 16 years to happen...belongs as much to you as it does to me! Thank you!