I was 18 when I first became a student at Lansing Community College. I had a one-year old daughter and was separated, on my way to becoming divorced. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I just knew I didn’t want to stay on welfare. I don’t recall exactly, but I’m pretty sure I was scared to death at all the uncertainty in my future.
I focused on one semester at a time, like many of you probably have, and eventually earned an Associates Degree. What an incredible sense of accomplishment! I didn’t realize it at the time, but earning that degree from LCC ignited something in me. I started realizing all the possibilities I hadn’t known even existed.
At one point I was working as a secretary in an office of engineers, and saw what they did and how much money they made, and decided I was going to go on for a Bachelors Degree. This is something that never would have entered my mind a few years before. So back to LCC I went in order to earn enough credits to transfer to Michigan State University as a junior. It was so important to me at that time as a single mother to take advantage of the accessibility and lower cost of LCC’s classes. Without the education and support I received at LCC, I never would have been able to pursue an engineering degree, and I’m so very grateful.
And now, I’m an environmental manager with a major corporation. I’m the president of the Society of Women Engineers, a 40,000 member global organization supporting the advancement of women in engineering. I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world, literally, and do some pretty incredible things. Things I never could have imagined when I took my first class at LCC so many years ago.
Like you today, I felt incredibly proud of my accomplishments at LCC. And that sense of accomplishment ignited something in me. It wasn’t just receiving a degree, it was realizing all the possibilities I hadn’t known existed.
I share this with you as you graduate, to plant a seed… that this degree, while an incredible accomplishment in its own right, may be just the start for you as well.
Congratulations, class of 2019, and thank you.