Statistics, Distinguished Graduate Jehojada Merilan explained, can be disheartening, even debilitating. They can cast shadows on our dreams, muster doubts about our futures. But, he continued, statistics do not define us — as evidenced by Valencia’s 2018 graduating class who, like Jehojada, celebrated commencement on Sunday, May 6, 2018. On the contrary, these graduates — the young mothers who finished school, the first-generation college students who opened new doors, the students who grew up in impoverished neighborhoods — endured, defying the odds stacked against them.
Detailing the lessons learned from Jehojada’s own odds-defying experiences, he used his Distinguished Graduate speech as an opportunity to impart three key lessons to his peers.
“Each of you have a particular set of skills and traits that distinguish you from the rest,” he said. “Learn what they are, develop them and use them to your advantage.”
Second, he noted, “In life, I urge you not only to fail, but to fail hard, and to use each opportunity as a learning experience to better yourself.”
Third and finally, he left his audiences with a creed that undoubtedly resonated with many preparing to walk the stage.
“We do not beat the odds, ” he exclaimed. “We defy the odds.”
This message, true to many Valencia graduates’ experiences, featured prominently during Sunday’s commencement ceremonies, which celebrated the achievements of more than 1,500 students.
As Valencia leaders offered words of wisdom and congratulatory messages, they focused on students’ abilities to overcome barriers to earn their degrees.
“Knowing that you have achieved what you set out to do, that you have accomplished your goal, a Valencia degree, that is indeed something to celebrate and we are extremely proud of you,” remarked District Board of Trustees Chairman Bruce Carlson.
For social media coverage of commencement, visit the #ValenciaGrad tagboard. To review the recorded ceremonies, starting on Monday, May 14, 2018, visit the valenciacollege.edu home page. Follow Valencia’s Flickr albums for more photos of graduation to come.
Congratulations are also in order for our Valencia nursing students — 77 traditional and 12 advanced standing — who on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, were commended in a nurse pinning at Olympia High School. To view photos from this ceremony, follow Valencia’s Flickr albums.