President Wright, Members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished guests, faculty, family, friends, and fellow graduates,
It is a great honor and privilege to represent the military campus programs as the valedictory speaker on this momentous occasion.
I would like to extend a hearty “Congratulations” to all my fellow graduates. This has been a long and arduous path, but in this time of triumph, I would like to acknowledge what this moment represents.
This moment represents sacrifice. Many people have graciously given of their time and talents to provide us with opportunities. Victory does not come alone and it is not free. We have reached this major milestone in our lives through the support of HPU’s faculty and staff, our employers, our friends, and our families. To them I say, “Your unselfish support and dedication to us did not go unnoticed, we would not be here without you.”
This moment represents opportunity. Each and every one of us enjoys the freedom this country offers through the continuing efforts of the men and women of the armed forces. For many people in this world, this education we have all received will forever be a dream. We can never forget the sacrifices these men and woman have made, many of them with their lives, to afford us the freedoms and opportunities we sometimes take for granted. There are no words that can adequately express our gratitude for their service. I offer a sincere and humble, “Thank you. We would not be here without you.”
This moment represents change. When we started this journey, each one of us envisioned how our lives could be different. We were not satisfied with mediocrity or the mundane. We began to dream of a new future for ourselves; a future that moved us along our college journey to this very day. The leaders in our lives helped to shape us into the leaders of tomorrow. To them I say, “We stand ready as the leaders of tomorrow and look forward to using our experiences to encourage and strengthen our communities. We would not be here without you.
This moment represents choice. In order for any change to occur, there has to be a choice made. All of us made the choice to start this journey of life long learning. Even when there were challenges that would have us waver, we stayed the course. Many of us have families, jobs and the like that demanded our attention, yet we persevered, and today, we have victory. To my fellow graduates who share this victory and the people who saw greatness in us I say, “We have succeeded, we are achieving greatness. We would not be here without you.”
This moment is a culmination of all these things, but most of all, it represents teamwork. Together, with the education we received at HPU, we can bring change to our communities, opportunities to our fellow sojourners, unlimited choices for our children, and honor the sacrifices made on our behalf.
On a personal note, I would like to thank my wife, Tracy; you are truly the anchor in my life. Through all the trials and tribulations we have endured, I have always been able to trust in your friendship and support. You are a precious jewel. I would not be here without you. To my children, Maggie, Tyler, Matthew, Caleb, Noah, Abigail, and Elijah; you are the future and nothing is beyond your reach. Dream big and never lose your generous spirit. To my in laws, Anthony and Nancy Stillman, who surprisingly traveled over 6000 miles to be here tonight, thank you for entrusting your daughter to me and always being there for us in the good times and the bad. I am proud to be a part of the Stillman clan.
Again, congratulations to all my fellow graduates. Go forward and do Great Things!