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2023 - Paulina Sequeda Malave: This is not over; life is barely beginning

Tags: Commencement | Graduation Essays
Published 05/22/2023
Paulina Sequeda Malave, student speaker for the Spring 2023 University Transfer Commencement Ceremony

Paulina Sequeda Malave, student speaker for the Spring 2023 University Transfer Commencement Ceremony

First of all, I would like to say thank you. I have a lot to thank Elgin Community College for.

Dr. Sam, the Board of Trustees, Academic deans, faculty and college administrators, families, and friends. Thank you for your support and dedication throughout the years.

And, of course, to all the graduates, thank you. I used to be very afraid of speaking in public, but in the last few months, I made friends that I can now consider family, and I realized that many of them are graduating today with me, so there is nothing to fear. You welcomed me to this country with smiles and open arms, and I will personally miss all of you.

I've never been one to give good pep talks, so I'll keep it honest. This is not over; life is barely beginning, and I can say that many challenges await us in the coming months. And don't get me wrong, because yes, we are graduating after 60 credit hours or more. We should be happy! I definitely was, at least until people started asking: what comes next? Where are you going to transfer? Are you moving? Are you going to graduate school?

That’s when I started to panic. The truth is that I do not know exactly how my future will go. I knew I would graduate, but beyond that, it’s uncertain. And that’s okay. I hope you don’t rush into planning what comes next. Enjoy this accomplishment. The future is never crystal clear, but I do know this - one day, I will transfer to a four-year school, one day, I will graduate again, and one day, I’ll be a biomedical engineer because hard work has its rewards, and I have worked very hard to be here today.

I emigrated twice. I left on my own when I was 18 years old, dreaming of this day. There were many times when I was scared, thinking I wouldn’t make it, and almost giving up. But fear will always be there. And that, too, is okay. If there is something that I have learned since I left Venezuela, it is that if you are afraid, you should do it with fear. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish. 

I have grown a lot here, and some people encouraged me when I needed it most. So, I would like to give a special thanks to Professor Jason Kane. Thank you for believing I could do this, even when I did not. And Dr. Kristina Garcia, thank you for caring and inspiring me to keep going despite adversity.

Gracias a OLAS por hacerme sentir como en casa. Y por ultimo pero no menos importante me gustaria dirigirme a mi familia, gracias por acompañarme hoy, y por todo el apoyo en el camino. Este logro tambien es para ustedes.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023. We’ve done something amazing and deserve to enjoy that for a bit. And then, on to the next challenge, knowing we might still be scared, but we can do it.

Thank you.

Paulina Sequeda Malave, Venezuela, Puerto Ordaz
Associate in Engineering Science