Skip to content

2023 - Melanie Escobar: I thank Elgin Community College for enriching my education

Tags: Commencement | Graduation Essays
Published 12/19/2023
Melanie Escobar, student speaker for the Fall 2023 University Transfer Commencement Ceremony

Melanie Escobar, student speaker for the Fall 2023 University Transfer Commencement Ceremony

Good afternoon, fellow graduates, family, friends, and faculty. It is my greatest honor and privilege to address such a diverse community of different stories and walks of life. Thank you to our distinguished guests for your attendance today to celebrate a special milestone. I extend my gratitude to Dean Long for the opportunity to speak today and for believing that my story is worthy of sharing with you all.

My name is Melanie, and I am the proud daughter of my Mexican immigrant parents, Marisol and Orlando. I stand before you today because of the great support system behind me and the people who have given me the strength to stand through adversity and accomplish great things.

Attending university has always been a dream of mine; however, getting to that point was no smooth sailing and consisted of failures that I had to learn and grow from. I must preface that my time at Elgin Community College was longer than I had initially planned for myself. I began attending my senior year of high school through the dual credit program, which I believed would be the end of my ECC experience. Yet, things didn’t go as I had expected. As we are all too familiar with, the world experienced a time period of isolation. In combination with student burnout, this made it difficult for me to stay motivated with my studies, and I suffered academically. Embarrassingly, I knew I hadn’t made the correct decisions to set my foot right for getting into university.

In an unsure period of my life where I had considered taking a break from school, my parents were there to uplift and encourage me to keep going. Thus, instead of taking a gap year, I was determined to move forward with my studies, even if that experience didn’t begin in a traditional four-year institution. With this in mind, I also made a personal promise and commitment to myself that I would make the most out of my time in community college.

My initial semester at college was more challenging than I anticipated. I tried to balance working 32 hours a week while being a full-time student to raise money for future university costs. The inability to properly balance out my work and being hesitant to ask for help resulted in a poor performance in my first semester. I also received my first ever failed college class during this time. It left me with an overwhelming sense of grief and disappointment within myself. I kept this failure bottled up, as I couldn’t bring it upon myself to share it with my parents, who had sacrificed for me to get this far. Although this was difficult to bear, it was the wake-up call I needed to truly inspire change for myself.

In the end, I confided in my mom about these struggles. Rather than expressing frustration, she encouraged me to focus on my education first and foremost. Her response was a reminder I needed to get back on track. Above all, education was my number one priority, knowing that I was in a position of privilege to access these opportunities not available to my parents due to a language barrier. With diligence and hard work, I drastically improved my grades and overall mental well-being once I learned to confide in others. In addition, I took the chance to become involved in my campus community.

This leads me to reminisce about one of my most cherished moments at ECC: the time spent in leadership at the Organization of Latin American Students. Not only have I learned valuable skills on how to advocate for myself and others, but I have also been met with a safe space to embrace my culture and feel at home. I built many friendships during my time as a student, and I was given the opportunity to become vice president for the remainder of the 2023 spring term with their encouragement. I am grateful for the time spent in student leadership. It allowed me to meet many people from various backgrounds, learning about their hardships and how they persevered towards our shared goal to graduate. Their experiences inspired me to maintain the drive to pursue my studies further.

Being an active member of my community wouldn’t have been possible without my parents, especially my dad, who diligently provided me transportation on numerous occasions to attend school events and become involved.

My parents never questioned why I spent so much of my time in extracurriculars; they had full faith and trust that what I did was going toward the betterment of my future. I also extend my gratitude to my friends for uplifting my spirits with a good laugh and kindly helping me when I needed it the most.

In addition to my close friends and family, I would like to acknowledge dedicated ECC faculty and staff that have helped me as well: thoughtful professors such as Jason Kane and Deayana Matt, alongside the welcoming Student Life and TRiO Student Support Services staff, for cultivating a positive environment within campus. I could do more than I believed possible with the help of a fantastic support system that only developed further during my time here.

I share this to provide insight into how seeking help, exploring opportunities, and surrounding yourself with positive influences can lead you somewhere great. Even having one person to confide in makes all the difference. One of the special qualities of ECC is the community. We all help one another and celebrate each other’s successes. I thank Elgin Community College for enriching my education and allowing me to reinvent myself.

I want to take this time to express my gratitude towards my family. Their unwavering love and support for my decisions have given me the courage to work hard and move forward. They did not know up until now that I would be speaking behind the podium; therefore, I dedicate them these following words:

Para mis papas, les doy mil gracias desde el fondo de mi corazón, por su gran apoyo incondicional. Ustedes me inspiran a seguir adelante en mi educación, estoy agradecida a ustedes y Dios por guiarme en el camino correcto. Prometo seguir luchando para mis estudios, donde busco un mejor futuro para mi, y para ustedes también.

Thank you to the audience's families, friends, and faculty. We, the class of 2023, stand on the shoulders of those who have mentored us on our journey. With your support and guidance, we now hold the proud title of college graduates.

For our graduates, be proud of where you stand today. Everyone here has had to overcome their own set of obstacles: working multiple jobs, caregiving, immigrating someplace new, navigating college life as first-generation students, and more. Despite these hardships, you’ve persevered. I commend you for your hard work and determination to reach your goals. Your presence here today inspires many, including myself. In the face of adversity, you continued to fight to complete your education at ECC. Today is a happy day as we move towards a greater future for ourselves. We only cross the graduation stage a few times in life; therefore, let us cherish and celebrate this great accomplishment with our loved ones this afternoon.

Congratulations, class of 2023, and best wishes to your future endeavors!


Melanie Escobar ‘23
Associate in Arts
Carpentersville, Ill.