The Journey: Navigating the Road to Graduation

2013 CTU Kansas City Commencement Speech by CTU alumni Tina Mischlich

CTU Kansas City Graduation Speaker Tina MischlichTina Mischlich is a recent CTU graduate, earning a bachelor’s in business administration in management. She works full-time for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and also juggles an active family and personal life. Tina was selected to speak at the Colorado Technical University (CTU) Kansas City graduation event and shares an inspiring poem that describes her journey, and that of many fellow graduates like her. Following is her complete speech.

CTU Kansas City GraduationGood afternoon fellow graduates, faculty, family and friends. Wow, what a milestone we have accomplished. This has been an emotional ride for me. It’s a day I thought would never come. I’m sure many of you have felt the same. I really doubted I would make it to the finish line. But when I set my mind on something, I’m going to do everything possible to make sure it happens. I believe that if we can make it through this journey, we can make it through anything.

A co-worker wrote the poem I’m about to read to commemorate this very special day. I’m sharing it with you because it describes more than just my experience, or even just the graduates. My guess is that everyone in this room has experienced at least one of the same challenges I encountered.

Just over four years ago, a journey began--
One not meant to be walked alone.
Others here also started that journey with me,
With others I crossed paths along the way.
Today, you are all part of the end of that journey.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend.
I have a full-time job, dance classes and soccer games to attend
And I was a Sunday school teacher.
Add pursuing a degree to these roles
And you have a huge challenge and a full plate.

Did things get sacrificed along the way?
Yes, they did…music programs were missed,
Quantity time with my daughters and husband was less,
But not quality time.

Did I feel support from family and friends?
Absolutely I did…they kept me going.
They provided me the motivation that I needed to succeed.

As did the instructors at CTU.
They understood, really understood
That most of us worked full time.
That this was not an easy journey.
And so they were flexible, and they were ALWAYS ready to help.

Many of us formed friendships
As we attended classes together
One semester after another.
We were support for each other.

I have watched my daughters grow during this time.
Kaylea was 7 and is now 11.
Alli was 5 and is now 9.
But chronological growth was not all that took place.

I watched them grow from young children
Into young ladies.
And…I just hope that they also saw growth in me.

Growth that reflected stamina, persistence and determination.
Growth that outwardly taught them that when it gets tough,
You don’t give up. You just keep going.
Teaching your children while you are learning yourself
Is not something that you plan to do when embarking on this journey.
But it may be the most valuable lesson of all.

Just getting by, just passing classes, just graduating—
That is not and should not be enough.
Graduating with honors has been my goal,
And with the help and support of others
Has become my accomplishment.

Over the past four years
I have been living, breathing homework.
I have taken advantage of every spare moment—
Even lunch hours to complete it.
I’ve learned time management skills by necessity.

Some classes have been more challenging than others—
For me, it was accounting.
Many of the writing projects also stretched me.
But what I learned along the way
Is that when you don’t know where to begin,
You just start somewhere.

Getting started—
That’s the key.
And once you get started,
You do finish.

I’m so happy that I made the choice more than four years ago
To get started at Colorado Technical University.
I’m so thankful for the journey I’ve been on.
And now I’m thankful to be at the end
Of this challenging journey

As graduates, we’ll be going down different paths,
Paths that may or may not cross again.
But today we celebrate crossing this finish line together—
Receiving the degrees that we’ve worked so hard for.

And best of all,
It has prepared us for our next journey in life.
The journey of a being college graduate in Mid-America, USA.

And now I’m ready and excited to start that journey,
And I know that all of my fellow classmates are as well!

Yesterday we were students. Today we are graduates, and tomorrow is what we make of it. I want to wish each and every one of you the best in your future journey! Enjoy every new challenge you encounter. I also want to once again thank the faculty, as well as our family and friends, for helping us make it to this day.

Thank you.