Skip to content

Graduate Essays - Ruthie Chae: Pursue your dreams, no matter what

Graduation Cap

A few ECC graduates share what this achievement means to them

Tags: Accomplishment | Commencement | Graduation Essays | Student Profile
Published 12/11/2020
December 2020 Graduate Ruthie Chae.

December 2020 Graduate Ruthie Chae.

Robert Frost wrote, "Two roads diverged in the woods, and I, -- I took the road less traveled, and that has made all of the difference."

My background is probably very different from the majority of you all in attendance. I went to a very small religious private school from preschool until senior year. And by small, I mean, I graduated with two other classmates.

There is a college associated with the high school that graduates are expected to attend. This college only offered ministerial degrees, which I knew would not be the right choice for me, considering I have wanted to be a nurse since I was three years old. When I told the school administration I would be attending Elgin Community College in the fall of 2016, they told me I was making the wrong choice, that I would fail within the first month, and that I would never make a name for myself.

So, I was faced with two choices, two roads: I could believe what they said and choose the life they set for me, OR I could pursue my dreams and work to prove them wrong. I chose the latter. You see, what you don't know is that as a little girl, I was in and out of the hospital a lot, and through that adversity, I believe God gave me the gift of helping those in need.  He planted that seed early in my life through the kindness of nurses and doctors who helped me throughout each hospital stay. 

I'm not going to lie and tell you that the transition from high school to college was easy for me. I took the road less traveled. And as you probably know, the road less traveled isn't stress-free. It was hard. There were a lot of tears. I wanted to give up so many times, but what kept me going was knowing nursing was what I was meant to do. I share my story with you in hopes that it encourages and inspires you to pursue your dreams. Not an advisor's dreams, not your parent's dreams, YOUR dreams, because you are the only person who can be you and get it right.

At ECC, I pushed myself to study hard and persevere and it paid off. I became a peer leader for my math class second semester, a member of Phi Theta kappa third semester, and won the statewide Paul Simon essay contest for ECC my fourth semester. I took the PSB test in June 2018 and was accepted into the nursing program. Two years of hard work and dedication later, I stand before you as an official graduate of ECC's nursing program, finishing with a 4.0 GPA, speaking at the commencement ceremony of the college I was told I would fail at.

My story turned out the way it did because I chose not to settle for anything less than what I had always dreamed of. I chose to pursue my passion despite people's negative opinions.

So, while the paths that led us each to ECC are probably very different, our purpose is the same.

We all have some gift or talent, we've refined that here at ECC, and now, we get to use that gift to make a difference. While our journey together at ECC has come to a close, we leave here as graduates, equipped and ready to make a difference and leave our legacy. So, once again, congratulations to the graduating class of 2020. We did it!


– Ruthie Chae, Elgin
   Associate of Applied Science


Read more graduate essays.