I graduated from college today and managed not to trip over my own two feet while leading the procession down the aisle to the stage! That was the first obstacle I conquered today, the second was making it through my speech. Public speaking is terrifying to me, but I force myself to do it in the hopes that it will become easier and more fluid with experience. I made it through approximately 2/3 of my speech without fumbling over my words when it happened; as I looked into the audience I saw my beautiful daughter with tears in her eyes and pride and love in her heart, I immediately became emotional, my voice cracked and my eyes filled with tears. I thought I was going to breakdown right there and be unable to finish speaking. I could not read my own words on the paper as everything was blurry because of the welling of tears in my eyes. This emotion caught me totally off guard and I thought it was going to overtake my body and leave me unable to continue. I did manage to hold back my tears and finish my speech, although I never again looked in the direction of my family until I was finished. When I walked back to my seat and looked in the direction of my family and friends again, my daughter was standing, clapping and mouthed to me “I am so proud of you!” Can you imagine a more beautiful, emotional and satisfying sight? I will carry that memory with me forever.
I had no idea how my speech was perceived by the general audience, of course they all clapped for me when I finished, but that is what people do. After the ceremony while I waited outside for my family and friends to exit the auditorium strangers came up to me and shook my hand and told me my speech was beautiful and made them cry. By the time the third stranger shook my hand I understood that I had actually accomplished what I wanted to; that is not embarrass myself and my family by attempting to speak in front of a large audience! All I can say is “thank you,” to Joe Stenho, my professor of Presentational Communication!
Today was an important day for 300+ of us Granite State College students. Today we graduated with our adult college degrees. I extend my congratulations to all of my fellow graduates and my appreciation to all of those who have inspired, taught and collaborated with us to get to this point. We did it! We may have taken longer to achieve our goal of an adult college degree but that just makes this day all the sweeter to us.