My time at Elgin Community College started almost six years ago. Since then, I have been met with several challenges and obstacles, which is why it took me so long to complete my degree. Nonetheless, I am graduating with my Associate in Arts and am very proud of what I've accomplished and the adversity I overcame.
It was through the motivation and support of my wife, Christina, and my sons Sir Emmerich and Alarek that I was able to keep pushing forward. In addition to their support, I was also lucky enough to have some magnificent faculty to aid in my journey; Eric Long, Mary Elfring, Janet Whitsitt, William Doty, Virginia Kurtz, and Dr. Bill Pelz. All of them helped me pull through a difficult situation, as their time, compassion, and understanding allowed me to meet my responsibilities of schoolwork and home. Still, I am especially thankful for Dr. Pelz, who has left an everlasting impression on my life and for whom I am a better man because of his knowledge, guidance, and continuing support through the adversities I faced during my time here at ECC. I hope that when my time comes, I can have an impact on someone's life in the way that Dr. Pelz has had on mine. I will forever be thankful for him and his brilliant classroom sessions. With the support of these faculty members, I maintained my high GPA, allowing me to graduate with high honors. I was bestowed the honor of being the university transfer commencement speaker for my graduating class.
I plan on continuing my journey at Northern Illinois University, where I intend to complete my Bachelor in Arts, majoring in history with a minor in geography, and obtaining my undergrad certificate in geographical information systems, as well as my teaching credentials. I hope to one day become a history professor and have the honor to teach at a place such as ECC to pay it forward and help students realize their goals and dreams.
Adversity will always exist in our lives, but how we overcome that adversity is what defines us. As Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I challenge you to take the first step in your journey, and if you're already on yours, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, so don't stop now.
ECC has been more than a college to me; it's been a home, a place of refuge and light, and I have enjoyed my time dearly.
~Joseph P. Robedeau, Bartlett