Delivered at the Class of 2013 Baccalaureate Service
May 12, 2013
Thank you Mr. Berryman and thank you to the Chaffey Alumni Association for this wonderful recognition! As I listen to the list of distinguished past honorees, I am even more honored and in awe. I have not written books and I do not have a long prestigious title. I have dedicated my life to serving others.
I want to tell you a story about a little girl, me; and my story might not be too dissimilar from some of your stories. I grew up in a single-parent family. My father and my mother’s brother were killed when I was three years old. My mother was pregnant at the time and the stress of losing her husband and brother in the same accident caused her to lose the baby. So in addition to growing up with just a Mom, I am an only child, too. My mother never remarried and dedicated her life to raising her daughter. Shame on me for never taking the time to say, thank you and I love you – something I deeply regret to this day. I attended Central School on “G” Street, Vina Danks, Chaffey, then Chaffey College. I consider myself to be an above-average student, but not the brightest.
By nature I am a very shy person. I take pleasure in being a “behind the scenes” person. I like to organize things and I love the satisfaction that comes from developing something from its inception all the way to completion. It was totally out-of-character for me to play Auntie Em in the most recent Wizard of Oz. To the cast and crew, I want to say “thank you” because you were so patient and so understanding towards Uncle Henry and me. It was truly a thrill of a lifetime!
My most influential years were my high school years. Yes, it’s true, Once a Tiger, always a Tiger! It is in high school where true friendships are formed. Way back when, we could join Tri-Hi-Ys – YMCA-sponsored clubs. I belonged to the Callistians Tri-Hi-Y. The friendships we made then are just as strong, if not stronger, today.
I will not belabor my career paths, only to say I graduated and obtained my teaching credential at the University of Redlands. But as luck would have it, I settled into a career in Sports Marketing/Sports Management which allowed me the opportunity to meet and work with outstanding professional athletes – names you might recognize are golfers Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer; race car drivers Helio Castronevas (Indy 500 winner and he won Dancing with the Stars); Mario and Michael Andretti; Jimmie Johnson; Danica Patrick. And I even worked with President Gerald R. Ford for a bit.
My third career, 35 years later, is now working with a California State Assemblyman. Each profession got better than the last. In 2008, I ran for and was elected to the Chaffey JUHSD Board of Trustees. It is a position I cherish because it gets me back to where I originally thought I would spend all my working days – with students!
Enjoy your graduation. It only comes once in your lifetime! You are now at a point in your lives where you will pursue other ventures – some may be off to colleges and universities, some may get jobs right away, some may get married, or some may enlist in the military and for that I say, thank you. Class reunions will come and go. Over time, your reunions will become an opportunity to connect and re-connect with classmates. Some of our closest friends and travel buddies are those we really didn’t know in high school but became acquainted with at reunions and it was all because of one connection – We Chaffey Tigers!
As I approach retirement and no longer feel the need to work, work, work, I have learned that it’s not about the “mighty dollar,” nor the career title, nor the fabulous home and cars. It’s about relationships and the friendships you have established. Money, careers, cars, homes are insignificant unless you have someone to share them with.
My ask of you during your graduation week is to look around, possibly to the person seated next to you, and tell your friends, your teachers, your coaches and counselors and for sure your families, how much they mean to you. Love is an incredibly powerful word. It brings forth all sorts of emotions – affection, devotion, sympathy, even pain and hurt. I like the way the famous movie actress, Katharine Hepburn described it: “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, only with what you are expecting to give.” Please tell those you are closest to that you “love” them. Love is not really love unless you are willing to give it away! Thank you and may God bless you!