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Speech given to the class of 2017- students with 3.5 GPA and higher.


Good evening. I’m so honored to be here tonight! I must make a confession to you.  I was not a good student in High School. I had a 1.97 GPA. I was told early in life I’d never become anything.

So, my life’s goal was to be a housewife.

Shortly after I graduated my mom told me to either get a job or go to school. I chose the “easier” of the two.  I went to Longview College.

There, I took an aptitude test since I’d never taken the ACT or SAT.

A week later, a counselor called me.  She asked me to come in to discuss my results.

Now, this was 1986, and we weren’t very politically correct. She didn’t mince her words.

She said, “There is a difference between being dumb here (point to head) and being dumb here (point to heart).

“You see, being dumb here (head) means no matter who teaches you, you can’t learn. But being dumb here (heart) means you could have learned anything, but you chose not to.

“So, I’m telling you right now, you’ve been dumb here (heart) way too long! This test tells me you could have been anything, and you chose not to!”

She gave me The Board of Trustees Grant, but then said, “If your grades drop below a B average, I will take it back.  Because I am NOT your MOMMA, and I don’t give second chances!”

In a few short moments, she taught me 3 things that would change the way I saw the world for the rest of my life.

  1. “You could have been anything, and you chose not to”
  2. “I’m not your momma”
  3. “I don’t give second chances”

I had to understand that I was not just a product of my environment, I was a product of my own choices. I’d chosen to sleep through school. I’d chosen to listen to the negativity around me.

I chose. And you too, are a product of your choices.

In telling me she was “not my momma”, she was telling me the world was not going to love me unconditionally like my mother. The world owed me nothing.

And as you can see by today’s society, there are many people that won’t love you because of your race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or even your political affiliations. However, you have the power to change how the world sees you. Respect others unconditionally, and act in a way that would gain their respect. Can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be if we all did this?

I think of the lessons, “I don’t give second chances” has been the hardest to accept.

We live our lives as though there will always be tomorrow. Life will pass you by faster than you realize. This hard lesson was learned when my oldest son was murdered in 2013. Corey Laykovich, class of 2009.

The world does not give second chances. Cherish THIS moment, right now.

I chose to get my Associates, Bachelor’s, and two Master’s Degrees.

I’ve been in Social Work for going on 30 years.

So, what I’d like you to take away from what I’ve said tonight are these lessons:

  1. You are the product of your own choices from this point forward. You can choose to rise above any adversity you may encounter, and become anyone you choose to be.
  2. The world doesn’t owe you anything, but you’d do well to give it all you’ve got. If you want something to change in the world, you must be the one that changes it. You are more powerful than you believe!
  3. Love, laugh, cry, and live RIGHT NOW. Make the best choices you can. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

And lastly, I want you to reflect on your own education here at BSHS: To the teachers, counselors, and principals you’ve had, the conversations you’ve had with them, and the lessons you’ve learned BEYOND your daily academics. These lessons are the ones that will change your lives. And thank them. Because you may not have another chance.

Thank you.

Michelle Metje

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