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WGU Graduate Speaker, Amanda Lisonbee, Summer 2016

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Amanda Lisonbee, Summer 2016
Western Governors University
<p>"Today is My Someday" - Amanda Suni Lisonbee 2016 WGU Summer Commencement Speech at Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah.</p> <p>Amanda Lisonbee earned her Bachelor of Arts, Special Education degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Hello. It is an honor to be here today. When I first heard about the commencement speaker opportunity I was immediately sure that I wanted to apply. I knew that I wanted to share my story. I've never spoken in front of a large group of people, and I thought it was pretty terrifying. And it is. [Laughter] But I wanted to share the story of how my "someday" became my "today." And I wanted to speak for those of us who have overcome enormous obstacles and pushed on even when the odds were against us. And I wanted to speak to those who are afraid to believe in a someday because their today and their right now is just overwhelming.</p> <p>Today is my someday. It is the day that I kept in my sight for the last three years, even when my vision was blurred by sweat and tears. Three years ago my husband and I were expecting our ninth child. [Applause] My husband and I each had had three of our own children, and then we went on to make three together. We had each overcome so much on our own. We rescued each other in a way that would change my life forever. The love that he gave me was healing and inspiring.</p> <p>In a 100 year old rock house on 14 acres with dogs, ducks, chickens and chukars, we became a blended family from which I drew strength and a sense of self worth. As a stay at home mom I pursued my teaching degree with the idea that someday I would use it. Someday, when my kids were in school. I wouldn't have called it a passionate pursuit at that point, more of a way to feel productive during three back-to-back pregnancies.</p> <p>I chipped away at my courses a little at a time, and spent my days holding babies and getting my feet rubs. Someday was only an abstract concept of a distant future and I was not really in a rush to get there.</p> <p>On September 18th, 2013, six weeks before my son was due to be born, as my children hid behind curtains awaiting to surprise their daddy with a birthday party, I got a knock at the door. My husband would not be coming home. He had been in an accident on his way home, and he didn't make it. At that moment there was only that moment. And then, in the next instant, someday became an immediate need.</p> <p>I needed to provide for my children. I needed to be strong for my children. I needed to show my children that tragedy is an obstacle, and an obstacle is meant to be overcome. I needed a plan, and a direction, and a goal, because I needed to not fall apart. There were days and weeks when schoolwork was too big for me. It's hard to see a computer screen through eyes full of tears and a head full of fog.</p> <p>To be honest, there were days when everything was too big for me. I don't know what I would've done without Lori [Inaudible], my WGU mentor. She gave me permission to celebrate every success no matter how small, and to cut myself some slack when I needed to take a break.</p> <p>Something that I have learned over the last three years is that yes, a heavy burden is hard to carry, but it also makes you stronger. Sometimes you have to set that burden down and hug your babies, and cry, and laugh, and scream, or sleep. And then you pick it back up and you push on towards your someday.</p> <p>Today I'm celebrating my graduation, but I'm also celebrating the strength, love, determination, and sacrifice of my family. My mom and my little sisters and my little brothers and their wives all came together in support. And they talked to me for hours on the phone, or in person, knowing when to let me cry, when to let me be angry, and when to offer words of support, and comfort, and advice. My mother in law, my husband's mother, has been exceptional support, and I love you. [Applause]</p> <p>My dad quit his job and moved from another state to help me for a year because three babies are too many for two arms and a broken heart. And I feel so blessed because even though my children lost their daddy, I got to share mine with them, and that is a pretty good deal because my dad is awesome. [Applause]</p> <p>My children are the biggest heroes of my story though. During one of my school terms, many of it which was completed in by bathroom with the door locks [Laughter] I completed 36 units. The previous term I had been so low that I had barely done anything. But with my family's support, I came back strong. During those few months my children got very little of me. And while my dad's cooking has improved since I was young, I know that my children missed my lasagna and my lap.</p> <p>My daughter, Jovie became like another parent and I couldn't have done this without her help in raising "our" babies. When people tell me that she is so much like me, I take it as a compliment, because she is impressive. My kids and I had a hard road ahead of us three years ago. My mom always says that you can take what life gives you, and you can let it make you bitter or you can let it make you better. We chose to let it make us better.</p> <p>I'm proud of myself and I'm proud of my family. I'm proud of my kids because we pulled together, and this is a shared success. Because this fall I'm going to be teaching at the school that my children attend. And because my daughter told me that she thinks I'm cool when I'm all teacher y. [Applause]</p> <p>And because I didn't give up when no one would've held it against me. I like this feeling of knowing that I can look hardship in the face and overcome it, and I like looking back and seeing how far I've come. And I think most of us today can look back and remember when this day seemed so far away. And I think it was just a distant someday for a lot of us.</p> <p>Congratulations to all of us for pushing on and overcoming and never giving up, so that today isn't just another day, today is the dream, and today is our someday. Thank you.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2017 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)