Thank you Dr. Gregory Robinson, and ECC faculty and trustees. It's my honor today to deliver the commencement address for my incredible fellow ECC classmates. Also, I want to welcome peers’ families, and faculty to this graduation day at Elgin Community College. Please note that each one of you has made a positive impact on each one of us who is graduating today. My name is Evelin Gonzalez. I am the proud daughter of Adolfo Gonzalez and Maria Tapia. They are, like many of the family members attending this ceremony, caring and supportive. Without a doubt, we are graduating because you hold us up and serve as a prop for our achievement. Just picture everything we had gone through as students during the pandemic. The emotional toll that we had to put up with as we undertook college courses in the face of uncertainty.
Despite the struggles, all of you showed courage, tenacity, resilience, and endurance. We were able to display these qualities because we supported one another. The pandemic showed us that one cannot and should not stand alone like an island. We should be a continent, connected with each other despite the physical isolation that became a part of our everyday lives. Furthermore, thanks to our studies and the support we have received from ECC. We have acquired more than the necessary skills to not only support others but to also empower them. Be that source of strength that someone else needs to stand by themselves.
If we do, not only will we have the satisfaction of having a sense of self-worth, but we will obtain the respect and love of those we have helped. In my opinion, this is the definition of success, so believe in yourself. You are capable of making a positive difference in someone else's life, so make your dream and passion to help others. Just as Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous American essayist of the mid-19th century said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Indeed, the best path to take in this journey called life is to serve others by using one’s skills to empower others. Love will help in this mission. In fact, there is a Bible verse that relates to this, that some of you might know. Matthew 22:39 says, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Clearly, whatever you decide to do, do it with your heart wide open. Do not put limits to your love. Love heals, and we need it as we restore our emotional balance after going through a traumatic experience caused by this pandemic. Perhaps right now, as you are sitting here, you might feel uncertain about the future. Nevertheless, do not be afraid; ask for guidance. There is always someone who is willing to listen and reach out. Accept the help provided, be humble and have faith that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
As a matter of fact, I am standing in front of you because I have received help, encouragement, and guidance. First, I would like to thank Jehovah, my God, for giving me the courage and the strength to be here. I have also received lots of help from my parents, teachers, and the resources provided by ECC. I know that without them, I would have never in a million years imagined myself standing here in front of you delivering a commencement speech. You see, throughout my high school years, I struggled with learning. Since I was in Kindergarten, I was diagnosed with a learning disability. For this reason, deciding to attend college was definitely a tough decision. As my sisters and I were discussing the issue, we argued about how a fish could climb a tree. I remembered replying, “a fish can climb a tree if someone takes it there.” They laugh, but this is precisely how I experienced college here at ECC. I was provided with guidance in all aspects of my student life. For example, I joined the Future Workforce Leaders Program, which guided me through various career paths. In addition, from the program, I gained valuable work experience. As a matter of fact, ECC was my first employer. I worked at the Early Childhood Lab School for one year. After that, I obtained a job at U-46 as a paraprofessional. Still, the workforce program at ECC checked on me often and provided guidance during job hunting. ECC not only guided me outside of school. I also took advantage of tutoring and teacher feedback.
Thanks to the wonderful teachers at ECC, I hope I become a social worker someday. I choose this career because I want to help people meet their needs through valuing their capacity for human growth and change, as well as advocating for social justice. Now, I am part of the PTK honors program. Finally, I want to thank my teachers from ECC who have helped me in my career. One, in particular, her name is Hope. She believes in her students, and because of that, we love her and admire her. Thank you, Dr. Liddy Hope.
In conclusion, use your skills wisely by empowering others. Believe in yourself. You have the power to help others. Seek guidance in case of doubt, and let love be the reason for which you are giving your best. Let me finish by saying congratulations to the class of 2022. WE DID IT!
Evelin Gonzalez Tapia '22
Associate of Applied Science – Human Service Generalist
Visit the ECC Graduate Essays webpage for more graduate stories.