Good morning Chancellor Jeff Redmond, Faculty, Staff, Families, and Graduating Class (2022)!

It is my honor to be your student speaker. Thank you. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We took the first step on our journey a few years ago when we decided that we needed that competitive edge and we wanted to get ahead of our peers. Going back to school as an adult is not for the weak and it is not easy. We all had to make compromises, negotiations, and have hard conversations with our families, significant others, and loved ones about how we would complete an upper-level education without dramatically affecting our day-to-day lives. I remember having a conversation with my wife, Zerena. We spoke for a few hours on the matter and we had to come to a compromise on how things were going to get done around the house for the next years. That compromise meant that I was working from 630 to 3 and rushing home to prepare for my first class at 5 till 7, and some terms an additional course from 730 to 10, and then making the time to complete my homework. It was not an easy task, but Zerena was my rock and my cheerleader when I thought I could not do it and she pushed me on.

Juan Avila and Jeff Redmond

A few years back, I recall speaking with my oldest son, Angel, about the value of education. I told him that education is a beautiful thing when it is done on one’s own terms, but that once family, a full-time job, and life obligations are present, pursuing an education has its constraints. We all know what that feels like because we all had to make very difficult decisions and put certain aspects of our lives on hold for a few years, including our social lives and the pursuit of our own hobbies in order to complete our goal, and today, we are finally here!

Getting an education as an adult is difficult, but not impossible. Colleges like Laurus are here to help the working adult in achieving that dream of being a college graduate. Laurus gave us the tools we needed to be better prepared for the workforce. Both the faculty and staff know that sometimes life throws unexpected curveballs our way and we need extra time to complete an assignment or even a little cheering on to continue on our path. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the faculty and staff at Laurus College, but especially Lyn Stangeland, one of our business instructors for her kind words, and teachings and for making every class she taught fun and less stressful. She was my first Laurus class instructor when my first college assignment, the 300 word essay, and my last Laurus class instructor when I easily and confidently completed my assignments.

Graduates today is our day! But we did not accomplish this highlight of our lives without the help of our families and/or loved ones. I would like to thank my wife Zerena for being there for me. For being my wind when I thought of giving up. For the last 3 years and a through a lot of long nights, you stood by my side and helped me achieve my goal of being a college graduate. And during my tenure at Laurus College, you also give me 3 beautiful daughters and helped me to be here today.

Juan Avila

For many of us, having this degree is only a steppingstone for things to come. This degree is going to open many doors that once were closed. But I am going to challenge you, don’t stop here. Continue on the path of learning that we’ve been following, because when we stop learning our momentum will stop too.

I would like to leave you with these words from Walt Disney, “all of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” And today, this honor, this is proof that we all have that courage.

Thank you!