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2023 - Kira Spears: I want you to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel

Tags: Commencement | Graduation Essays
Published 05/22/2023
Kira Spears, student speaker for the Spring 2023 Career and Technical Programs Commencement Ceremony

Kira Spears, student speaker for the Spring 2023 Career and Technical Programs Commencement Ceremony

My name is Kira, but you Spartans may know me as the Wellness Services lady that gives out free stuff and words of encouragement from behind an “ECC blue” table every Wednesday. Nice to meet all of you!

During my time at ECC, I have learned a lot about my fellow Spartans. They are talented, skilled, and full of wit. They are strong, determined, and wise. They are inclusive, caring, and kind. And they are really good at sniffing out events with free food. Today is a day to celebrate these incredible humans. Spartans, I hope you are feeling just as fulfilled, joyful, and grateful as I am today.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge that not all of our days leading up to today have felt like this. In fact, a lot of incredibly hard, dark, and gritty days are part of many of our stories. For a long time, I never thought I’d be able to accomplish my dream of becoming a counselor; I was so depressed that I thought I was beyond help.

That started to change, however, when I chose to keep reaching out and asking for help, even though I wanted to give up. I owe so much to so many people that have helped me climb out of a deep, dark, scary place. I know there are people in this room who might say they are still in that place or still climbing out of it. I see you, and I am so deeply proud of you. While this journey is not linear, I want you to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. When you are feeling lost, I want you to remember that there is always hope, even when you can’t see it. The fact that I am alive and standing here today is proof of this.

There are so many accomplishments and dreams being realized in this room today because of the fact that we have not given up in the face of struggle. Part of what makes ECC so special are the services that are provided to students, including wellness services, disability services, tutoring, and many more. Another thing that makes ECC stand out is the opportunities available for students; for me, this looked like an internship for two semesters, preparing me to enter the substance use counseling field with direct experience. This opportunity led to another, and I am thrilled to share that I have accepted a full-time position as a substance use counselor at a therapeutic day school.

So many people have stood beside us every step of the way, helping us to not give up. For me, some of these people are my mom Karen; my dad Brian; my sister Tina; my grandparents, Nancy and Richard; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. My dear friends Melanie, Alexis, and Lydia. And, of course, Dr. Joe Rosenfeld and Dr. Liddy Hope, two of the best human services professors in the business. Spartans, can we all take a moment and give it up for everyone that has supported us throughout our journey?

Today is a day to celebrate. And today is a day to remember how far we have come, but also how limitless our potential is and how far we can still go. Savor this moment. Soak it in. Be present. We did it - we made it! And I can’t wait to see what else we do when we get out there. Everyone, please give it up for the Class of 2023.

Kira Spears, Algonquin

Associate of Applied Science