Steffanie MacLeod is the 2011 Thompson Rivers University valedictorian for the graduation ceremonies held Friday  at TRU.

Steffanie MacLeod is the 2011 Thompson Rivers University valedictorian for the graduation ceremonies held Friday at TRU.

Young mother validates value of education

The following is TRU valedictorian Steffanie MacLeod’s speech during TRU’s graduation ceremonies Friday

The following is TRU valedictorian Steffanie MacLeod’s speech during TRU’s graduation ceremonies Friday.

Steffanie Macleod

Special to The Tribune

Good evening graduates, faculty, staff, family, and friends.  

It truly is an honour to be standing here tonight, on behalf of all of the students here with me.  

So from all of us, I wanted to first thank the organizing committee, and all of those who have made tonight’s celebration possible.  

Thank you all so much for putting this ceremony together, and making it a truly memorable event.

To all of the faculty, thank you for your guidance, your knowledge, and your inspiration. 

And to all of our family and friends, who are not only showing their support by being here tonight, but who have showed their support all throughout the years, none of us could be up here tonight without all that you have done for us… .

Thank you… .

For the past two years I have been a full-time student at TRU, and they have probably been the most challenging years of my life.

I can admit that I was a little stubborn after graduating from high school, and chose to take a year off, which easily turned into two years.

And by the time I decided to come back I was married and had an eight-month-old son, and to be completely honest I don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into.

I can still remember walking into the registrar’s office one afternoon, during the first week of the fall semester classes, with the intention of just picking up some brochures and course information, and walking out registered with a full course load.

Everything between that moment and now has been somewhat of a blur. 

And, well, none of us share the same story as to how or why we are here. We do all share some common threads … the hours devoted to writing papers, preparing presentations, and studying for exams, the sleepless nights and the twitching eye during the weeks when everything seemed to be due at once, grieving the $200 that was sadly spent on a single textbook, the loss of weekends and, at times, the loss of sanity.

However, I’m sure we also can all relate to the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, and knowing that you did your very best.

The opportunity to meet new people and to make lifelong friends, the confidence to not only succeed, but to excel, and the recognition of one’s potential.

All of us here today are a testimony to where drive, determination, and perseverance can take us.

I have always been brought up to believe in the invaluableness of education, and now that I am both a student and a mother I feel that I can really start to appreciate this lesson.

I have learned more from my university experience than the definitions of the boldfaced words in a textbook, the countless formulas and diagrams put to memory, how to write a proper thesis statement, or how to properly format an MLA, APA, or Chicago-style paper.  

Education, as Nelson Mandela once said, “is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and I strongly believe this.  

For me, education has transformed how I look at life. It has opened my eyes to a world with amazing opportunities, and even greater potential.

It has given me purpose, direction, and inspiration for the road ahead.

And while for some of us formal schooling is at an end, and for others, only just beginning, our education will be lifelong, and the lessons that we have learned, and the transformations that have been set in motion, will continue to impact us, and all of those around us, wherever we will go. 

So tonight, we are not only here to celebrate the past, and the challenges and obstacles that have been overcome, but to also celebrate the future, and all of the possibilities, within each individual here.

Congratulations graduates!

May you continue to be an example, and a light in this world, your knowledge and your confidence infectious. Because with an open mind, a positive outlook, and a strong sense of who you are,  anything is truly possible.

Thank you.