Editor’s note: Ivonne Meza is a business administration major at Southwestern College who will transfer to San Diego State in the fall. At Southwestern College, Meza has been active in the Puente Program, the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and has served as vice president of finance for the Associated Student Organization. Meza is also a student in the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) program and was the student speaker at their End-of-the-Year Recognition Ceremony on May 11. Below is a complete transcript of her speech.
I would like to start off by saying how proud I am of each and every one of you here today. I am proud of all your individual achievements that are being celebrated this evening. Despite the fact that it was our own blood, sweat, and tears on those homework assignments, essays, and tests, and it will be our name on the certificates we will be receiving at the end of this semester, we have to admit that we couldn’t have done it on our own. There was always someone or something in the back of our minds during those late nights, early mornings, and through those times that we were going through an abundant amount of stress, a form of motivation and a support system that kept us going. It could have been a friend, a family member, a professor, a counselor, an administrator, a staff member, or someone else that you look up to and aspire to be like one day. I would like for you all to take a second and remind yourselves of who that person or who those people were for you.
Personally, the people that have kept me driven are my family members, my parents and my brother. My parents began their own educational journeys as most of us did at the young age of four or five, but their journeys were cut short near the ages of 17 and 18. Whenever I am asked that question, “fathers/mothers highest level of education” I always find myself bubbling in the answer that states “some of high school,” and that serves as a motivational factor for me. Although my parents may not have completed high school, let alone a college education, they are my biggest inspiration and the human beings that I aspire to be like one day. They are extremely hard working, selfless, caring, and humble individuals. I have been blessed to grow up in a home filled with as much love and support as my parents have provided for me. My own parents have never forced me to continue on with my education, but have encouraged it every single day. For as long as I can remember, I have always known that I would go to college, and I will receive a degree in honor of my parents. Although, they aren’t always able to understand everything that I push myself to do as a student, they are always the ones to support me the most. Everything that I choose to do is to make them proud.
Now, my brother, I have always looked up to him and without realizing it I have always wanted to be like him in my own way. I remember the first time I ever stepped foot on this campus was for his own EOPS End-of-Year Recognition Ceremony, where he was the student speaker three years ago. At the time I was a junior in high school and the thought of coming to Southwestern College didn’t even cross my mind. It wasn’t until I saw everything that my brother had accomplished here at Southwestern College that I decided this was the place that I wanted to be at.
We have all heard the rumors and negative stigma about community colleges. I went to Bonita Vista High School and I recall perfectly how my English teacher senior year would refer to Southwestern College as “ASU”, which to him stood for “Across the Street University.” Whether you are one of those people that believed in the stigma or not, I would just like to encourage you to be proud of being a product of a community college. The potential of the students that come to community college is inspiring. Community college has been a wonderful experience for me, I have learned so much about myself that I know I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had gone to a four-year university right after high school.
Within my two years here at Southwestern College, I have had the honor of being a part of the Puente Project, the Associated Student Organization (ASO), Phi Theta Kappa, and EOPS. To some it may seem like I have done a lot in my time here at Southwestern College and they may also think that I had it all together, but let me admit to you that at times it’s those of us who try to put so much on our plate to stand out that are having the hardest time staying on top of everything. I think it is safe to say that we have all faced different kinds of challenges throughout our time here at Southwestern College, whether they be internal or external. It could have been regarding anything from a homework assignment to the many conflicts we have seen in society. I can say that I have failed a test and I have had to retake a class and although I felt like my world was falling apart when those events first happened to me, I can tell you now that they never cross my mind. In the continuation in achieving our goals, those moments will come up, but always remember to keep moving forward without looking back, let those moments empower you.
Lastly, I would like to use this time to thank the entire EOPS team. While on campus when I wasn’t in the classroom I was in EOPS and because of that, EOPS became a second home to me, and not only that, but I made a second family. There is no doubt in my mind that you have all made a wonderful impact in most of the lives of the students here this evening as you have in mine. Your willingness to listen and your sincere “How are you doing?”s are things that I will never forget, truly cherish and miss. Believe it or not, you have all touched my life in your own way. Although I may not be filling in one of your shoes as a professional, I will strive to be like you in my professional life as an actuary one day. Every day I was around you all I could easily see how you are all so dedicated and catered to each student to meet their needs for them to succeed. I also plan to work with the same amount of dedication in order to make the spectrum of my work one that will improve and facilitate others’ lives. EOPS wouldn’t be the amazing program it is without you all. Whether you will be receiving an associate’s degree and will be moving towards achieving your professional goals or you will be transferring to a four-year university, congratulations and keep moving forward because it’s not over yet.