I attended the first GED Graduation in my new position as an Adult Education Math teacher a few weeks ago. One of my students, Maile, addressed everyone with the following speech. She did an outstanding job and has many good things in her future. The coolest thing about teaching adults is watching the tremendous amount of obstacles many of them, including Maile, overcome in finally finding some success in their own education. In her speech, she talked about the biggest. I was very lucky to be able to help Maile overcome some of her obstacles. This was her presentation:
“Graduation means different things to different people. For me, graduation is something I have pursued on and off for my entire adult life. It always seemed just out of reach for one reason or another. I always could come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t study, or why I couldn’t go to class. To tell the truth, one of the biggest problems I had was fear.
This fear kept me from working toward what I wanted, and it would have stayed that way unless I had made a conscious effort to put my fear aside and take a risk on myself. I made the decision earlier this year to attend classes, study what I knew I was miserable at, and finish my education. To do this required me to sacrifice time with my family, to get to class when I would rather take a nap, to try to understand things I had no desire to even look at, namely math.
What this all boils down to is that there is one person responsible for the earning of this achievement: me. Granted, I was supported by family and friends as I studied and tried to work my schedule around. But the one person who is truly responsible is the person standing here before you, now a graduate.
I think one of the biggest obstacles I faced wasn’t scheduling or learning the material, it was motivation. I wanted to be here in front of all of you, I wanted to have that diploma in my hand, but I lacked the motivation to do what was necessary. Wayne Dyer, a motivational speaker and author, is quoted as saying “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always our choice.” To me, that is one of the truest sayings I have ever encountered. Once I chose to pursue this diploma, nothing was going to stand in my way. When I took the final portion of the test, I was exhausted, and had been sick for the previous two weeks. I could have easily decided to put off the test considering how I was feeling, but I made the choice to go forward and take the risk, betting that I would overcome the obstacles in front of me and succeed. And now here I am.
Don’t be concerned if you are working toward a goal and you stumble. There were plenty of days that I stumbled, but rather than let these bumps in the road knock me off track, I chose to use them as examples why I should redouble my efforts. When life knocks you down, get back up, dust yourself off, and say ‘you hit like a little girl’. By doing this, not only are you making progress toward your goal, you are also redefining the way that you deal with life’s issues.
There will always be problems in attaining your goals. But how you deal with these problems can and will have a significant impact on how successful you are. If you let things like a flat tire or having the flu stop you from reaching your goal, how will you ever attain anything in life? The only way to do something, to do anything is simply to do it. If you spend all of your time considering why something can’t be done, you will never have a chance of doing it.
To have reached this goal, there are some things I have realized. First, it is an amazing thing to see myself here, doing this. I had hoped and dreamed for so long to be here, and now it almost seems surreal. It truly is one of the best feelings in the world. Second, now that I have reached this goal, I am setting new goals for myself. By doing this, I will be working toward the things that I want, rather than sitting back and accomplishing nothing, and now that I have realized a goal, it will make it that much easier to realize more of them. Finally, I feel like now I am ready to see some success in my life where before there was only the dreary day-in day-out routine. This graduation has opened many doors for me, but what has opened even more doors is the fact that I did this, and knowing that I did it means that I know I can do other great things.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my parents, my husband, my children and my friends for their understanding and support. I would also like to extend a special thank you to the people here at ABLE who made all of this possible by providing the materials and guidance necessary for me to succeed. Without the ABLE program, getting this diploma would have been much more challenging. They were truly a light in the darkness during a difficult time when it seemed I barely had a chance to catch my breath. Thank you all, goodnight.”
You did an outstanding job, MAILE…YOU ROCK, LADY!!!