Mom's Graduation Speech
ELLA MAE COLLINS - 1996
Honored guests, friends, neighbors, my children, grandchildren, and my classmates: It's an honor to stand here before you, chosen to give this speech.
I want to thank the Lord for making it possible for me to be here.
I didn't have the opportunity to finish school. It's been fifty-some years since I attended school. I walked about three miles a day to and from school. That was before buses were available for students' transportation. My school was a one room school house with grades 1 through 7, taught by one teacher.
I wanted to get an education so much that I took the seventh grade two years, knowing that I would be unable to go to high school. Doing so would have meant walking 12 miles a day. I thought when I finished seventh grade, my education was over.
I married at the age of 18 and started my family of 11 children, of whom I am very proud. I wanted them to get an education knowing it was a must if they were to get good jobs and provide for their families. All my children finished school, some have a college education; all have good jobs and wonderful families. I know that education is a must, in these times especially.
I would like to tell youhow I received the opportunity to finish school. My neighbor and friend was caring for her elderly mother and also teaching reading and writing classes in her home so she could earn an income to support herself and her daughter in college. I started taking classes just to help her. Then she got a part-time job teaching adult education and I continued taking her classes.
To my surprise, I got interested in school and found myself wanting to get my GED. I never thought this would happen to someone my age. I thought I wouldn't be able to remember what I studied. Can youimagine learning algebra and geometry at the age of 73? I found that studying improved my memory.
I know I couldn't have gotten my GED if it hadn't been for my faith in the Lord, my teacher, and my children. They gave me the courage to try. With their help, trust, and encouragement, I made it.
It has been a joy to get to know my fellow students, to meet and talk with such nice young men and women. You have been like my family, and all have been so nice to me.
As we go our separate ways, I hope you young men and women and all who want to will further your education. As for me, I will keep busy. I like to sew, quilt, crochet, cook, and help the needy. I am interested in most everything and I love to learn. I wish I could help everyone in need. You can never know what it is in the future though. I might find myself going back to school again and furthering my education.
So put the Lord first, then your education, and you will make it.