Lesson Learned (December 23)

I serve on the Administrative Council for the Fred W. Eberle Technical Center (FETC) on Morton Ave. here in Buckhannon. I count my election to the Upshur County Board of Education as a high privilege, believing the education of our students is the most important work we can do. Our future as a society depends on students like Angel Houston, who graduated from the Fred Eberle School of Practical Nursing on December 18, 2021. For this week’s lesson learned, I turn it over to Angel, who gave a wonderful presentation at the graduation. Her lesson learned is simply excellent: “Don’t fear failure, fear being in the exact same place next year, as you are today.”

And thus, I present Angel’s graduation speech for this week’s Lesson Learned:

Good afternoon, family and friends. I hope you’re all as excited as we are to be here today! I am honored to have been chosen to be our class speaker, and I just wanted to take this time to thank every one of you for joining us for this special occasion. Many of you have been major sources of support for someone on this stage, and we couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is the day many of us have been waiting for, for so long, and we are so glad you’re here to see us through.

I would like to start off by expressing the most gratitude for the instructors who dealt with us every day for the last year. Our academic struggles, and personal problems, and many, MANY mental breakdowns, you two kept us on track. The ones who poured their knowledge into us, turned us into graduate practical nurses and within the next few weeks to months, will turn us loose into the medical field as licensed practical nurses. Ryan, Rhea … we are forever indebted to you both for giving us this opportunity to succeed and flourish.

I think I can speak for most of the class when I ask this question: “What … just … happened?” Because I am not entirely sure that any of us know the answer. It seems like yesterday was January 4th and we all eagerly walked into the classrooms, thinking we were prepared for anything this year threw our way. However, I don’t think any of us realized just how trying this year would be. They say you can do anything for a year, and today that reigns true. But believe me when I say there were moments in these last twelve months when success seemed just out of reach. Every single one of us persevered.

Fred Eberle Technical Center has built so many phenomenal nurses. So many careers started there, so many lives have been changed. Many of the nurses I know and love, started in this program. Some have stayed steady as practical nurses, others registered nurses and even nurse practitioners. I believe we are so lucky to be a part of this alumni. As we graduate today, we have opened so many doors for our futures. I cannot wait to see where your education takes every one of you. For some of us, this year was a steppingstone to bigger possibilities. For others, a lifelong dream finally accomplished.

A year ago, I saw a post that said, “Don’t fear failure, fear being in the exact same place next year, as you are today.” The author of that quote is unknown, but the words spoke volumes. In January, I was terrified. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was supposed to balance between a work life, a school life, being a mother, and a person. Today, well today I am traumatized. No, I am humbled. I am lucky, I am proud, and I am a graduate nurse. We all are. It was a privilege meeting you all and tackling this program together. Some of us have grown strong friendships, and some of us are happy that starting tomorrow, we never have to step foot in that classroom together ever again. This year we may not have always gotten along. We may have bickered and disliked each other. Some of us may never speak again. And that is perfectly fine, but there are a few things that will always connect us. We all conquered our fears. We all survived, and we will always be the Fred Eberle School of Practical Nursing class of 2021.

I guess what I am trying to say is, I know I took the scenic route to the point, but my point is,

CONGRATULATIONS everyone, WE DID IT!  —Angel Houston


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