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Valedictorian Address: Bernadette Greene-McEvoy

Personal Support Worker (PSW) graduate Bernadette Green-McEvoy was chosen as the Valedictorian for our 2021 (PSW) graduation. Her address was delivered at a graduation ceremony last Friday and it was so wonderful and inspiring that we wanted to share it with you as well.

“Graduates, family, and guests of Willis College. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Willis College for honouring me with the privilege of being valedictorian for my PSW class of 2021. The staff and teachers are amazing with their patience and knowledge to guide students to be successful in completing their studies to their full potential of graduating and working in our new careers. Thank you.

It was a delight to be on the same journey as other students, where our main focus was to make a difference in people’s lives. Thank you for your teamwork, studying together and the positive experience. 

I would like to talk about accomplishments and what it means on a larger scale. I once heard a speech that an admiral delivered in the United States to a university graduating class. His name was Admiral McRaven. His speech was so powerful as well as motivational. Everyone was left speechless. The one thing in Admiral McRaven’s speech that resonated with me was him talking about accomplishments. It started with the quote about making a bed. Yes, making a bed. Imagine that. Something so simple and so common. Making your bed can be the start of something in you that can grow to a much larger and more complex scale.

It’s a task completed in the morning and throughout the day more tasks are completed. At the days’ end when you feel stressed, the one thing you can do on seeing that bed made is to be reminded of the sense of accomplishment. Tomorrow will be another day to feel the same sense of that accomplishment.

During the pandemic, our studies were online, a new way of learning for us. During video Zoom meetings, I could honestly tell you that I did not see a bed that was not made. We’re ready. We’re eager to learn new things and we worked together to accomplish what we needed to do to be successful. 

Learning is a powerful tool, not just for students, but as well for teachers. I remember during our discussions, our teacher mentioned that she had learned something new that day, too. We worked together to gain experience and to help each other to be successful. Every day was an accomplishment of gaining new knowledge, which also influenced us to newfound confidence guiding us towards our goals. Going back to school was not easy for some. Completing projects and exams, oh, so many exams, let alone learning online, but we did it.

And because of that, we are here today graduating and that alone is a bigger scale of accomplishment. I would also like to remind you that our accomplishments not only resonate with us alone, they spread in a way that motivates other people as well.

I remember an experience at work that left a profound effect on me. I recall a time when I walked into the resident’s room and she was making a bed. I asked her if I could help her. And she said, yes. She was telling me to match up the corners of the quilted comforter to the corners of the bed and tuck it underneath the mattress.

As I stepped back to let her finish making the bed, I noticed she took much pride in smoothing at the wrinkles of the comforter, and she had a sense of accomplishment. And not only can you see this in her, but it also carried over towards independence. Accomplishments are independence. It can make us better people to get where we would like to be in life through education. It also activities of daily living. We should never take independence for granted as it is a right to live with dignity, the right to make a decision, freedom of choice and all other basic human rights.

As we move forward in our careers, remember to treat all people with the choice of living an independent life. Let them have their accomplishments and treat them with compassion, patience, and without judgment. Let them build confidence so they may carry it forward to another person as we do with our new knowledge gained from our studies. It is like a domino effect where positivity, confidence, smiles, and a good attitude will change somebody’s day and it will spread and they will do the same to another and to another and to another, and so on.

I wish to congratulate you on all of the hard work you have completed in the career you have chosen. It’s not an easy career, but it is a rewarding one. You will make a difference in somebody’s life. You have made a difference in your own life with all your accomplishments. So move forward, make a difference in somebody’s life so they may live independently as well. Thank you and congratulations.”

Congratulations to Bernadette and all of our PSW graduates!

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