Remarks at Commencement 2013 by Deanntré Brown
Robert Orben said, “A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that “individuality” is the key to success.”
What I’ve learned during my time at Guilford College is that you have to trust the process, because sometimes that’s all you have. The light at the end of the tunnel is great, but can you deal with mining through the dirt until you see it?
You honestly have to believe that those everyday tasks, some more challenging than others, are really putting you closer to your goal, otherwise the end result won’t matter. I first got my chance to trust the process shortly after registering for my first semester of class.
I resolved myself to getting all the books I needed at one time, because due to past experience I knew how challenging the lines and book availability could be.
I searched for all the books I needed, only to find out two very important things. First, all the used books were gone. Second, the one-two-zero under one of my textbooks was not the barcode but in fact the actual price.
With a book bag filled to the brim, I remember standing at the bus stop laying out a master plan of how things would go. All my assignments would be turned in on time, I would have a set study schedule – things would be great.
My thoughts were interrupted by one of my children asking if I still had any goldfish crackers left from the snack I had packed for them. Then reality set in.
I was a mom of two small children going back to school to finish my degree. It had been a while since I had been in the classroom, and with my current schedule I couldn’t even find time to watch a movie that didn’t have a dancing vegetable in it.
Where in the world was I going to find time to earn a degree?
Looking down at my children, I knew I’d have to find a way. Constantly, I was giving them the mom speech about working hard for the things you want and not expecting things to always be easy. This experience was no exception.
For the first year and a half at Guilford College at least three to four days a week, my two children and I would catch the bus so I could get to school. Living in High Point meant catching four buses to get here which was a two hour commute one-way.
You can imagine my delight after dropping the kids off at the Sunshine House down the street, then walking here for class, only to find out from a note on the door that class was cancelled. Times like this, the process was ALL I had.
On a larger scale, I knew that my goal was to be an attorney, but it was the belief that I was going about it the right way that made me keep going.
Despite the mountain of papers that all seemed to be due at the same time, the hours and hours of studying and sometimes scheduling classes before and after work to make sure I was on track with graduation, it worked out in the end.
It helped having professors who didn’t cringe when I had to bring the kids to class with me, and others who were kind enough to go through multiple senior project ideas and drafts to help guide me in the right direction. Not to mention friends and family who stood by me when the process seemed so overwhelming.
As we gather here today, traditional and continuing education students alike, though we may have had challenges being able to relate to one another due to different life experiences, we are united by the fact that we are the best of what Guilford College had to offer for its class of 2013.
We have developed into a community, and though diverse we may be, we have equally decided to press forward until we got to this point. This has allowed us to achieve excellence and maintain integrity, because we each have stuck to our process.
We are now better for having gone through it, and will be stewards in our future endeavors. This is the ultimate justice against any challenges that we have had to face. We not only lived the values that Guilford College professes, we are those values.
In closing, I am honored to stand before you and leave you with this. If you ever lose your way, return to your process.
This moment is a testament to the fact that everything you need to succeed is already inside of you.
As prepared for delivery at Commencement on May 18, 2013