Graduation Speaker Tells Her Story
Good evening everyone. It’s hard for me to stand here and look out into the crowd, for I never thought I would reach this point, or that I would be speaking at my own graduation. My name is Maricela Gonzalez and I would like to tell you about myself.
Like many Hispanic families, my parents came to the US for a better life for themselves and their children. I was born in California in 1970 and am the youngest of 12 children. My parents were very supportive and encouraging when it came time for us to go to school. I attended elementary school in California and finished middle school in Mexico. Right after graduating I got married at age 16 and returned to the US with my husband where we started our family here in Oregon.
I started working in 1992 for Oregon Child Development Coalition in Milton-Freewater and never imagined that my place of work would give me the opportunity to go to college to get my associates degree. Since I didn’t finished high school I had to start from the bottom. I was weary at first; I had three kids to take care of and couldn’t spare time to go to school. Slowly but surely I attended some classes at Walla Walla Community College and received my GED. I then transferred to Blue Mountain Community College and enrolled in evening classes to obtain my degree in Early Childhood Education. At the rate I was going it seemed like it would take an eternity to reach my goal and by now I had four children. It was frustrating at time because I would see my coworkers and friends graduating and I was still trying to accumulate credits. In the end, my friend’s success gave me the determination I needed to hurry up and achieve my last credits. Achieving this was very important to me because I wanted to inspire my friends, the way my friends had inspired me, by achieving their goals and graduating.
Without the love and support of people around you, such as your family and friends, things can seem impossible, but thanks to all of them I am standing here. I would like to thank OCDC for giving me the opportunity to go to college. They not only accommodated my schedule, they also paid my tuition, which gave me more incentive to go to school. To my husband and children, thank you for your support and encouragement. Without your help it would have been a lot harder. I would also like to thank my parents, even though they are not here, for having the courage to come to America to give us an opportunity for a better life. Finally to my instructors, you made learning adventuresome and fun. Today not only have I obtained a degree that will help me be a better teaching assistant, I have also set an example for my children to follow.
(Maricela Gonzalez works with the 5-year old class at OCDC in Milton-Freewater. Her sons are 14, 10, 5, and 2 1/2. The older boys are active in baseball, soccer, wrestling and basketball. Maricela intends to start working toward a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education when her youngest son is older.)