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WGU Graduate Speaker, Iraida Guadalupe, Summer 2015

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Iraida Guadalupe, Summer 2015
Western Governors University
<p>Iraida Guadalupe of Brooklyn, New York, wanted to be a teacher since middle school. The daughter of hard-working, supportive parents who wanted her to have the academic and career success they had not had the opportunity to achieve, she was determined to realize her full potential. Losing her parents and suffering major health setbacks herself and in her immediate family all threatened to derail her dreams, but she stuck with it and is now a brand-new fifth-grade teacher. She shared her story at WGU's August 2015 commencement ceremony, held on August 15 at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.</p> <p>Iraida Guadalupe earned her Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies (K-8) degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Hello fellow graduates, congratulations on making it this far. My journey was full of adversities, tears, and great loss. But I have found a deeper faith and determination. I can do all things.</p> <p>I clearly remember the day when I wanted to be a teacher. In middle school, I was involved in a student program and tutored children in a low performing class. I was paired with a boy in a second grade that did not know how to read. After working with him with several days, I will never forget the first sentence he ever read, "The cat in the hat." The look on his face demonstrated how proud he was, and so was I.</p> <p>Fast forward 20 years. I am now married to a wonderful man of 15 years that has encouraged me throughout my entire journey. I had to pause my dream of furthering my education when I became a mother of three wonderful children Christopher, Jonathan, and Megan. Now it is my time to teach them the biggest lesson I could, that they can do all things. As soon as my youngest turned seven, I knew it was finally time for me to go back to school. I was looking for something that was flexible enough for me to make take my kids to and from school, and that was recognized by the state of New York. If you live there, you know how difficult that is. I found WGU through a friend and felt it was the perfect choice for me. And so, the new chapter began.</p> <p>I was introduced to, in my opinion, the best mentor ever. Brittany Sidoway and have been on this journey for the past five years. Courses were challenging, the hours were long, and submitting to Task Stream seemed endless at times. But, I can do all things.</p> <p>A couple of years ago, my father went missing. He was found a few hours later in the hospital in a coma. This was the beginning of many nightmares. My dad had been such an inspiration to me my whole life. He had been forced to leave school to work in the fields in Puerto Rico to provide for his family. It was painful to see my hero in this condition. My mother also struggled to see my dad in this way, but she was always the strongest person I've ever known. She was a stay at home mom of four, raising us in one of the worst parts of New York. She finished high school but did not go to college. But despite that fact, she was the one that molded my love for teaching even when, in 2003, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. And though the circumstances seemed grim, she pressed on, determined to live. She molded that despite illness, difficulties, or lack of education, we can do all things.</p> <p>Her strength came through once again during my dad's illness, and with our faith that we were able to comfort each other. A few weeks later we were told that my ten year old son needed open-heart surgery. Feeling helpless and defeated, my son, facing incredible circumstances became another one of my heroes in that moment.</p> <p>I remember being in the hospital room those days after surgery. The only distraction was my laptop and my schoolwork. I had to keep pressing through and show my son that we can do all things, that this will not defeat us. Then, seven months after my son's surgery my mother, my inspiration, my best friend became gravely ill. We had to rush her to the hospital despite her unwillingness to go. I will never forget that day.</p> <p>I was in the ER, and I had forgotten about my weekly call. But Brittany was always on time. I was distraught, but trying to keep a positive attitude. Brittany always listened. I explained my situation and she was able to ease my worries. A few days after my mother had been hospitalized she went to a better place.</p> <p>On her last day of being with me, I promised I would finish school and care my children, my father, my aunt, as best as I could. I would need to remind myself that I can do all things. After several months of grieving my father started getting worse. He was heartbroken. Then the inevitable happened. My dad also went to be to a better place. He passed away five months after my mother. Again, Brittany came to my rescue and offered her support. It was the most challenging year of my life.</p> <p>Still, I was so close to completing my degree. I took comfort in focusing on what lay ahead a wonderful career in teaching. I needed this for my parents, for my husband, my kids, and most importantly, for myself. Eight months after my father passed away, my aunt, his sister, also went to be to a better place. The stress of all my loss began taking its toll on me physically.</p> <p>One day I felt a numbing sensation on the entire left side of my body. I went to the hospital and found out I had a mini stroke. I could not believe it. I remember lying in the hospital room contemplating everything that had gone on. Maybe I needed a break from school. Maybe this was a mistake. But when I got home I remembered the encouraging words of my daughter, and the look on the second graders' face when he read his first sentence years ago. I was reminded, I can do all things.</p> <p>Though hardships and adversities were there, losing my mother, and my father, struggling financially, I was reminded that I can do all things. As I look back, the pain of some of the obstacles are still there, but they do not determine my future, and my faith in God is stronger than ever. There is nothing impossible for those who believe. I have come so far from where I've started. This fall, I will have my very own 5th grade class. [Applause]</p> <p>I will be ready to teach them the same principles that my mother, my family, my friends, and mentors have taught me all along, that we can do all things. 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)