Michelle Jeanniton-Garrett Gives Graduation Keynote

Good afternoon and welcome administrators, faculty, staff, and Parents. And a very special welcome to my fellow Walker College of Business classmates! We made it! We are here to celebrate our dedication and accomplishments as we start on a new path in our life journeys!!! CONGRATULATIONS!

I must first say that it is an honor to have been invited to speak with all of you in our celebration of success! This opportunity is not only an honor, but it is a reflection of my journey over the last four years. I hope that what I share will echo throughout these walls how grateful I am!

I can remember the beginning of my journey like it was yesterday even though it was 5 years ago. It was dark, it was scary, yet it has been a time in my life I will hold close, to remind me of how far I have come.

My life was a roller coaster. A life full of drained emotions, not just for myself, but, for those around me. Truthfully, I don’t think I really sincerely gave a damn about living. I felt bad that I was a drain on my family and close friends. I had been selfish. I had guilt because I needed to feel the emotions that I had tried so hard to hold deep inside. I was angry that I felt guilty, but I also realized I did not have the right to blame others when they are only supporting me and trying to help me become more positive and healthy.

I had allowed the trauma I suffered to keep me a prisoner within my own mind. A mind that had become poisoned by self-hate, self-pity, shame, and guilt. I had suffered in silence for so long I had been slowly dying, withering away until I had become an empty shell.

The life I was living had no longer become an option. With the taste of death at the tip of my tongue, the acid burning from the top of my throat, down the sides of my esophagus, to the pit of my stomach, I had to make a choice!

Then one day, after a deeply spiritual experience, I made a choice. I made the choice to fight for freedom. Freedom from the demons holding me hostage. With deep open wounds still needing healing I needed to surrender, it was the only way I would be able to survive.

My soul needed to be rehabilitated. I needed to be placed on the surgical table to be explored. Though the tissues were deeply scarred, I had to be willing to be dissected, repaired, and rehabilitated so I could recover.

My body was a paradise island turned desert, thirsting for nutrients to bring me back to life. In my journey to seek self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, and understanding, I was guided on a path only set upon me by divine intervention.

The change was daunting. I cried, I fought, I argued, and I resisted. But there was something more powerful that found a way for me to continue on my journey and begin my next season. A season of new beginnings, new lessons, new awakenings.

Now that I was fully committed in being healthy, physically and mentally, I was determined to continue with my education. In August of 2017 I completed three Associate degrees and within a few days I was fully enrolled in the Distance Education program at Appalachian State University to complete my Bachelors in Business Administration.

It was my responsibility to find who I was, what I wanted to do with my life and make the dreams I once had become reality. I was no longer a seed that was lost, dehydrated and deprived of the nutrients needed for survival. I was now a planted seed filled with love, hope, faith, trust, and support.

Today, firmly and securely rooted, I will continue my education here at Appalachian pursuing my MBA. I realize that I will continue to hit road blocks, and that is okay. I will constantly remind myself that I am a rose that is meant to be a vessel with a purpose. I will use my story, my lessons learned to help inspire, motivate, and show through words and deeds that everything I had endured was all part of a plan that I no longer need to question.

Each of us have our own story, our own testimony. Each of us are on our own paths and some of us get to our destination quicker than others. This is okay! Your path is the journey that is preparing you for the next one.

Your story is yours and yours alone. Have compassion for yourself and others because your story, your testimony, and your transformation will inspire others. It will give others hope and help them to push and fight harder. Remember, this is just the beginning of your story, the story that you will write the ending to.

With your head held high, shoulders straight back, continue on your journey and take heed! You are 2019 Graduates of App State Walker College of Business – CONGRATULATIONS!

Published: May 20, 2019 8:13am