Good morning graduates, faculty, and guests. First of all, I would like to thank you all for being here today. It is a pleasure to be speaking here today. I have dreamt many times of being here. Over the past two years or however long it has been for you - reflect on how much has changed. Think about how much in our lives has changed. Regardless of the journey we took, here we are. We made it, so be proud of yourselves.
Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Julio Hernandez. Like many of you, I had a long journey in order to be here today. First and foremost, I would like to thank my mother, who is here today, for all the love, support, and words of encouragement. Hi, mom! I am proud to be the child of a single immigrant parent. Although my mother had a limited education, she ensured that I had all the support from her. When I joined the military at age 17, she wasn’t happy, but she was there. When I became a single parent, she was there. When I didn’t know what I wanted to be when “I grew up,” my mother was still there. In simple terms, my mother showed me the power of being a single parent.
The idea of coming to ECC started when I realized I needed the education to provide for my family. I didn’t know what I wanted to become, but I knew I was capable of becoming something more.
When I first started attending ECC, my classes started differently - they were on Zoom. It began with me being front and center and my camera being on. Later on, my camera was off, and I was looking pretty rough. I was unsure what path to take, whether to become a teacher or a nurse. I worked at a nursing home throughout the first waves of COVID, and that convinced me that I wanted to help people by becoming a nurse.
As I mentioned, the journey to be here today might have been smooth sailing, but for most of us, it may have been anything but that. Late nights and early mornings. Long hours and sacrificing time with family and friends, and LOTS of caffeine. Aside from all the sacrifices we made, this right here is what it led to.
If you are in the audience or reading this at some point in the future and you are unsure if you can finish college? We did it, and so can you. It may not be easy, but it is possible. ECC has many resources to help you succeed. If you don’t understand something, the professors here will gladly set time aside to help you. Tutoring is another great resource that ECC provides. If you are struggling with other areas in your life, ECC also has a wellness center here on campus to help you. If you are unsure how to afford a college education, the financial aid department can also help you weigh your options.
If I were to tell you how great every professor here is, I would be up here all day. I would like to thank Dr. Christopher Newman and Dr. Erin Kerwood. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, being remarkable professors, and helping me become the best possible student.
In closing, thank you to our faculty, staff, and students here at ECC for making a difference. Not only in our families but also in our community. Whether you are continuing to further your education at ECC or if you are transferring to a university. Be proud of what we have accomplished here today. Let me remind you all that we dreamt of this moment. Sometimes in life, we forget to take a step back and look at the big picture. Our dreams are happening in front of us here today.
To my son, Teddy: I want you to know that my happiest memories are with you and that daddy will love you forever.
Thank you all once again for being here, and congratulations to the class of 2022!
Julio Hernandez, ‘22
Associates in Arts