Last week we celebrated the Grace Outreach graduating class of 2016-17 at our annual ceremony and family dinner. At GO we pride ourselves on working with students over the course of their educational and career journeys. All of our part-time employees are former students who are working while they pursue a college degree. Below we’re sharing the moving graduation address given this year by our very own Annerissa Foreman, GO High School Equivalency and College Program graduate, GO employee, and now Lehmann College graduate:
Five years ago, I stood at this podium and delivered the valedictorian address as the highest scoring graduate of Grace Outreach’s 2011-2012 GED class. I then took advantage of another great resource here at GO and enrolled in the College Prep classes. Upon my successful completion of that course I enrolled in Lehman College and in the fall of 2013 I took on dual roles; that of College Student and Grace Outreach employee. Today, four years later, I humbly stand before you as a Magna Cum Laude College graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Early Childhood Education and an inductee into Phi Beta Kappa, one of the nation’s most prestigious Honors Society. My achievements were accomplished in part by the groundwork that was established here at GO.
I tell you these things not to brag but to encourage someone that it is possible to have dreams and attain goals. I speak to you graduates as someone who have been where you are today. I was once that woman who was excited and proud to graduate with a U.S. high school diploma. But I didn’t stop there and you shouldn’t either.
The great abolitionist and civil rights advocate, Harriet Tubman, once said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” I urge you women, “You be that dreamer!” Trust yourself and your abilities to achieve greatness. Your path may not be the same as mine or the woman sitting next to you but it is what was designed exclusively for you.
We are all unique and possess the ability to make a difference in the world. One person’s world may be the block on which they live while another’s may be their school, workplace, or even city. Do not be intimidated by the achievements of others but use it as an inspiration for your own greatness. Do not be defined by others but set your own goals and dreams because each of you have your individual story of your struggles, hurdles, and accomplishments. It is now up to you what the next chapter in that story would look like.