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Kevin Jackson

I am proud to say that I graduated this past June from Community College of Philadelphia with a degree in respiratory therapy.Completing this degree means so much to me, in many different ways.  I am again the provider for my family.  I am returning to a career in the health care field, where I know I am making a positive impact on the lives of my patients.It’s been said that there will never be point in your life where it’s the right time to do a great thing.  If you are waiting for that perfect time it will never happen, so what you will have to do is create the perfect time, the perfect opportunity, and the perfect situation.  If achieving a goal was easy everybody would do it, it’s up to you and what will you do with your time.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for this amazing award. I not only feel lucky to be here, but humble as well.  As I look around the crowd tonight I can only think that we all have a story, which could lead to a dream and manifest into a goal.  Few events leave behind images as arresting as achieving a goal can do.  That’s my story about going back to school to complete my degree.

As a young man at West Philadelphia high school, in 1986, my guidance counselor told me that college was not for me. I had good grades, but something about the school, the era, and my family’s socioeconomic status made him decide I was not college material.  Determined to be a future husband, provider and father, I joined the U.S. Navy. I served as a Corpsman for 10 years and through 2 wars.  Upon my honorable discharge, I became a paramedic for the Philadelphia Fire Department.  After 16 years of service in the PFD, I suffered a career-ending injury while on the job.  This injury left me with paralysis in my left leg.  I was forced to re-learn how to walk. I was struggling to find a way to become my family’s provider again.  I realized going to college for the first time at age 45 was my best chance to find a new career I love, and provide for my family.

I think of the pain I was in and how unmotivated I was, thinking I was never going to be successful.  So what did I do?  I turned my pain into greatness I allowed my pain to push me to from where I was to where I needed to be. I challenged myself stop running from my pain and I embraced my pain to be part of my prize, a part of my product.  I challenged myself to keep pushing.  It’s easy to stay at the bottom. It doesn’t take any effort to be a loser, it doesn’t take any motivation or any drive in order to stay down at a lower level, but I called on everything in me to harness my will to say I’m going to challenge myself.  I knew the bottom line is that the biggest enemy I had to deal with was myself.

I was lucky to seek out resources like Graduate! Philadelphia that helps build a legacy by eliminating any lingering elements of uncertainty. Assets like desperation to bring your goal in line with what you are already convinced is your reality. It’s there that Graduate’s personnel like Alfredo Reyes would say, “let’s go to work.”   Where you can build confidence to approach your goal with security of the knowledge that you are being pushed by the very best, like Barbara Mattleman.  To have the promise of new approaches with Mary Bustamante that will perfectly match you with the right scholarships to the tempo of your pursuit.

Your obligation to triumph is on behalf of not only your family, but for those who can look to you for their own motivation, knowing that you too once had so little.  An urge to prevail for those who will never lose faith in what you can make possible.  I am proud to say that I graduated this past June from Community College of Philadelphia with a degree in respiratory therapy.Completing this degree means so much to me, in many different ways.  I am again the provider for my family.  I am returning to a career in the health care field, where I know I am making a positive impact on the lives of my patients.It’s been said that there will never be point in your life where it’s the right time to do a great thing.  If you are waiting for that perfect time it will never happen, so what you will have to do is create the perfect time, the perfect opportunity, and the perfect situation.  If achieving a goal was easy everybody would do it, it’s up to you and what will you do with your time.

There’s an old proverb that says, “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm.”  Translation, when life knocks you down, try to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up.  If you want something bad enough then go out and fight for it to work day and night.So thank you again Graduate! Philadelphia for all that you have done for me and many more like me.  My future is looking brighter know that your support is behind me every step of the way.