Commencement Speech: Rebecca Keith
May 8, 2021
Fellow students, distinguished faculty, family, and friends,
It is an incredible honor to be standing here delivering this speech today. I am humbled to have been chosen to speak at our graduation ceremony. Although, I have inherited the gift of gab, I am not entirely comfortable with speaking in front of large crowds. It took a gentle nudge from loved ones and respected colleagues for me to step outside my comfort zone. When I googled tips on writing a graduation speech, one of the tips was “google it.” So, that proved to be less than fruitful.
From a very young age, I was shown that I could accomplish anything if I worked hard and dedicated myself to what I believed in. We all have a person. A person that inspires us, teaches us, and never gives up on us. My mother is that person for me. Whether it was learning how to change the oil in her car or helping me with a school project, daily, my mother exemplified hard work and perseverance. She blessed me with a foundation based on faith and perseverance that I have utilized not only as a mother myself, but throughout my life.
With that foundation, I have walked the road of a traditional and nontraditional student during my years of education. I took a few years to explore the detours in the road and to discover myself- I’m sure many parents and students can understand what that statement means. But ultimately, the concept of perseverance guided me to exactly where I was meant to be. After receiving my Associate’s degree in nursing, I worked as a Registered Nurse for some time before deciding it was time to complete my Bachelor’s degree. When it came time to decide on a college to complete my degree, I knew I wanted to go to Briar Cliff. I knew a few students who had attended Briar Cliff and trusted the positive things they had to say about the faculty, curriculum, and support they had received while attending.
While working towards my Bachelors degree, I can honestly say I felt supported, valued, and understood as a student. My professors took the time to answer every email-even the 8pm emails asking the same question for a 3rd time, because I needed more clarification. They provided the guidance I needed to not only understand the curriculum and concepts, but to master them. The education I received was based on my degree, but also included life lessons that I could apply once working in my field. What started as a small whisper in the back of my mind during my undergraduate program, grew to a tangible idea…I could go to graduate school and accomplish a Masters degree.
As I stand here today, I cannot believe I am graduating with a Master’s degree. When I started graduate school I was nervous and uncertain about my capability to complete my degree. When I felt doubt begin to creep in, I drew upon the faith and perseverance instilled in me. As I have progressed through my graduate program, once again I have felt the support I experienced during my bachelors degree. There have been a few mini-meltdowns and overly wordy emails, because sometimes as a student we think we need to include every single thought we have in an email about a project or assignment. However, my professors always replied to the wordy emails and provided guidance.
At Briar Cliff, I have not only developed lifelong friendships, but continued to build upon the foundation that was set so many years ago. We didn’t just receive an education while attending Briar Cliff, we have been prepared for the many roads that lie ahead in each of our career paths.
This last year has been proved to be challenging. Each of our lives have been affected in some way. We have been challenged scholastically to develop new methods for continuing our education. We have been challenged to adjust our daily lives and change how we interact with the world around us. But, here we are today. We have overcome a great deal and are all a testament of perseverance. In closing, I would like to say- may you never, ever give up. And as I always tell my own son, “Anything worthwhile, is worth working hard for."
Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner