My name is Sheronda Murray-Jamison. I give all honor to God! I’m very honored to be here.
Congratulations, Class of 2023, we did it! I hope all of you are just as ecstatic as I am to have accomplished such a wonderful achievement. Thank you for coming to celebrate all of our hard work. I am very excited to share this evening with you!
I would like to thank Kathleen DeMars for nominating me for this wonderful experience that I would never have dreamed of having. It’s funny, though, because on one of my sleepless nights, I was lying in bed thinking about graduation and thought it would be cool if I spoke, but what would I say? Less than a week later, my favorite teacher approached me with the opportunity, and as you all can see, I jumped on it.
Last but definitely not least, I would like to give a special thank you to my wife and my whole support team that’s here celebrating with me. I love and appreciate you all!
Graduating means a lot to me. I never thought that I would get to the point of actually graduating. I have started so many GED courses in the past and quit. But, this time was different.
I had more determination, grit, and motivation to finish. And here I am, achieving my goal! I am really proud of myself for that. I imagine that everyone sitting before me is also feeling really proud. Can we take a moment to recognize that?
I was 15 when I stopped attending traditional high school. I was so focused on being in the street and hanging around with so-called friends whom I don’t even talk to today. I’ve thought about if I regret it, and it is easy to say that I do. But, if I didn’t have those experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today, standing up here in front of you. So, no, I don’t regret taking the long road to get here. It made me a better person. I am humbler now. I want to take every opportunity that I can to further my education and my career.
I mentioned that I started and stopped GED programs countless times before. The most important word to hear there is “started.” I wanted to start. It was important that I become a better example for my kids. It is important to me that they not just know but see that you can accomplish your goals no matter how old you are. You can always start again. I want them to know that society and your past do not need to determine your future. I am now not just telling them; I am showing them.
Beyond my children, I wanted a better career for myself. Without my high school equivalency, I was restricted. I have had my foot in the door in the medical world, but I was stuck. Now that I’ve earned my high school diploma, I will have options. I will have choices. I won’t be stuck. I plan to complete my surgical technician training here at ECC. I have already started taking credit classes and have my schedule arranged and organized for the fall. I expect that it will be challenging and that I will feel some growing pains, but I am excited. I have a wonderful support system in place, and I know that when I need help, I can ask for it.
I am hoping to find a position with Sherman Hospital or Rush in Chicago when I graduate. I want to help as many people as I can and learn as much as possible.
To those of you in the audience. Thank you for coming here tonight. Thank you for supporting the graduates on their journey to this stage tonight. I know from my own experience that they could not have made it here without you. I also know that you’ll be here along the way as each of us continue down our paths, whether it be into credit classes at ECC, a promotion at our current jobs, or onto a 4-year institution somewhere else. We need you. We appreciate you. We thank you.
To my fellow graduates, please don’t give up on your dreams. You know you are going to have more obstacles coming your way. We all will. Do not let them stop you or keep you down.
You have people depending on you, but you’re also depending on yourself. Luck takes hard work, and you have the grit to do great things. You are capable of overcoming whatever rain clouds set you back. They won’t have been the first. They won’t be the last. Have the determination to keep moving forward, and everything will be fine. I wish you all the best, and again, congratulations!
Sheronda Murray-Jamison, East Dundee
State of Illinois High School Diploma, Class of 2023