You are here

WGU Graduate Speaker, Joanne Sylvestre, Winter 2017

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
WGU Graduate Speaker, Joanne Sylvestre, Winter 2017
Western Governors University
<p>WGU 2017 Winter Commencement Speaker Joanne Sylvestre.</p> <p>Joanne Sylvestre earned her Master of Business Administration, Healthcare Management degree.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Good morning everyone! So before I get into this, I wanted to do this real quick. Can everybody just get in, I want to do a selfie real quick, please. Awesome, guys.</p> <p>Welcome faculty, distinguished guests, family, and friends and best of all, WGU graduating class of 2016 and '17! [Applause] This part of our journey has ended and what a better way to celebrate the start of a new one. We rock! [Applause]</p> <p>As I tried to wrap my mind around the words that I could deliver to describe my journey, only these words came to mind: Standard at best. Those three words would be the one consistent factor throughout my adolescent years at home. Raised in a conservative Haitian American household, the expectations for academics were set. Be the best or be nothing. Although there were many victories, I could always do better, be better. Or at least that was what my perception was. Standard at best.</p> <p>They would be the invisible words branded onto me as the 19 year old pregnant college drop out, haunting me. The best achievement I could hope to obtain as a single mother working two jobs. A statistic, already defined, I should only hope for the ability to raise my daughter to not end up like her standard at best mom. I mean, standard at best. It's not so bad, right?</p> <p>If I could aim to be standard, I could have a normal life after all. No? That should be okay, yes? No. Wrong. It was and will never be okay. You see, my challenges and obstacles made me come to this particular conclusion: The limit is the sky when you allow it. Yet the sky should be the limit when you determine that you are not defined by your mistakes or misfortunes, rather by your capabilities to persevere onto the greatest accomplishments because you will never aim for standard. Therefore, I could not, would not be standard at best.</p> <p>A licensed practical nurse at the age of 18, I would successfully complete my associates degree in nursing at 27, become the youngest clinical manager in my region at 28, obtain my bachelor's degree in science for nursing at 30, become the first director of operations, overseeing nine hospital programs throughout the metro New York region at 31, and now, my MBA at 34. [Applause]</p> <p>So you see, there was nothing standard about my journey. There is nothing standard about me. Labeled as standard at best did have its advantages though. No longer allowing myself to feel uncomfortable without the lack of minority female representation in executive leadership roles, I decided to be the change that I wanted to see. As the founder of the Nutressence Network, a non profit organization created to empower women into taking on executive positions in health care, corporate organizations, and entrepreneurial enterprises, I aimed to revolutionize the world with minority females that would impact the culture of health within our communities.</p> <p>Developing into the leader that stands before you today, I was able to utilize the tools acquired from WGU and turn my resentment from a perceived standard at best life into an eternal fire of opportunity for others. I decided to create the voice that I was once told that I did not have and in return, it offered me the opportunity to create voices for those who are believed to be voiceless.</p> <p>So my question to you today is this: What are your limits in the future? Clearly, we each went through our own hurdles, obstacles, barriers, dilemmas, etc. Yet what makes us not so standard? Is it the fact that we each have proven to be able to take on the challenges head first despite the odds against us? Could it be the long hours and restless nights studying and prepping for our courses? Or maybe it's the APA formatted one inch margin with abstract and head runner and reference lists in which we love so much. [Applause]</p> <p>Whatever our challenges have been, there is one thing that we do all have in common. Our ability to exceed all the expectations far beyond expectations in a not so standard school, offering each of us unlimited opportunities. We, as WGU graduates have demonstrated that we define our limits, not others. Not our mistakes, but us. You and I.</p> <p>As we celebrate in this victory, I know that we each have been equipped to take on new not so standard challenges on our not so standard paths. Therefore, I challenge you to be firm. Be strong. But most importantly, be confident that you will never ever be standard at best.</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)