Graduation and beyond

I graduated with my Associates Degree in Psychology this past May 2017. To say that I am proud of myself for earning that degree is an understatement. Ten years ago I was basically a completely different person.

Approaching my graduation, I was under so much pressure. Actually, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to succeed. I did not want to be a failure. The feeling I had held with me for so long due to my drug addiction, arrest and just overall because I wasn’t living the life that I feel my generation growing up was told to live. Math always gave me a hard time, but I applied myself in each math class I took over the last few years and really gave it my all in my last semester. People would tell me to relax, that everything would be okay, but I wasn’t so sure. I doubted myself, but I think it was a good sense of doubt. A doubt that pushed me to work that much harder to make sure I did not fail. In the end, I succeeded. I graduated with honors and don’t regret one minute of the hard work I put forth or the pressure I put on myself. The late nights and early morning sessions were not always the easiest and tears were definitely shed, but the journey is all the more beautiful now that it has come to an end.

I really can’t thank my teacher Christine Mac who was just amazing and was able to always thoroughly explain the methods to our class as well as Jacqueline who is just an awesome person. Truly beautiful inside and out. She put in a lot of time making sure I understood the material and we had several laughs and maybe even a few tears together.

As I sat there during my graduation, with my two brothers, my mom and Brendan sat up in the stands, and of course, I couldn’t help but cry. I told myself I wouldn’t, but I did. I thought about all sorts of things. My dad was on my mind a lot that day and I can say they weren’t tears of pure sadness. It was more like I felt like he was there, I felt how proud he was of me. I am not a religious person, but I felt like he was with me if for only a few minutes. I had actually gone out and done what I had promised him and myself I would do. I had made the choice to get clean and go back to school. I remember almost feeling embarrassed because I know the people next to me most likely knew I was crying, but I also reminded myself that this was my day and nobody could take that away from me. It felt good to be able to identify how and why I was feeling how I was feeling and to fully own it.

I met a really awesome girl named Felicity when I took an art class one semester at Front Range Community College and she ended up being chosen as one of the speakers at our graduation. Well, this is what Felicity had to say and did I mention, this made me cry too? 😊

 

Let me ask you a question. What motivated you to come to college? If I had to choose only one person that motivated me to come back to college, I would have to give credit to my older brother, Taber. Taber always lived his life knowing that even if he failed, he still learned important lessons to apply to his next adventure. Sadly, in 2015, Taber passed away from a tragic accident, and although that was a very difficult time for me, I found light within the darkness… because Taber taught me an important lesson.

“Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

If I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, my name is Felicity Olson and I have landed among the stars here at Front Range Community College, graduating today with an Associates of Arts in Criminal Justice.

Before coming to FRCC, I had wanted to complete my Associates degree – but this was no easy task. There seemed to be so many obstacles in my way, and so I dropped out of college in 2002, worked dead end jobs, became a single mother, and struggled with my own sense of self-doubt as I watched my dream drift farther away. I was so terrified of failure that I was paralyzed to set any goals.    

One day I woke up and realized nothing changes if nothing changes. If I was to make a better life, I needed a degree. And then, I found FRCC. As a non-traditional student, I was scared that I would not fit in here, yet FRCC welcomed me in with open arms.

At FRCC, I found teachers that became mentors, who helped to shape me into a woman ready to enter the professional world. Teachers that went out of their way to show me the endless possibilities right at my fingertips and that social and professional mobility could become my reality.

I found a strong support system through the TRIO program and Phi Theta Kappa. I even met my fiancé here! My goal was to land on the moon, yet I found that there are so many stars in the sky and that there are no limitations on what I can do with my future.   My time at FRCC has been spent being inspired by all of you in front of me now.

My story may look different than yours, but we have all overcome the obstacles: Sickness, death, socio-economic status, age… These are simply rocks in the road that we have learned to maneuver around. Don’t be afraid of failure, but rather, commit to learning from your mistakes and allow yourself to be excited about the potential your future now holds.

Winston Churchill once said:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Front Range Community College gave us all the courage to continue, the knowledge to succeed, and tools to make it big in the real world. Now go out there and make yourself proud: Shoot for the moon, aim for the stars, what you’ve learned here will take you far! Congratulations, GRADUATES of 2017!

 

I am thankful for the people and the experiences I had while going to a Community College in Chicago and in Colorado. For me, I don’t see a Bachelors degree in my future. I totally believe I could complete the degree, however I know that my heart just wouldn’t be in it, at least not right now. My heart tells me to pursue the life I want to live on my own terms. I have this drive to find what it is that I am going to wake up and love to do every day. I have faith in the fact that with the time and effort I plan to invest in myself and my future endeavors, I can achieve just about anything.

I encourage you to live the life that you want for yourself, not the life others have told you to live.

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