Ingham Center Commencement Address: Ricki Hernandez (Lansing, Mich.)

Date: July 3, 2012

Ingham Ombudsman Center Class of 2012 graduated on June 1 at the Ingham Center in Lansing, Mich. Ricki Hernandez addressed her classmates during the ceremony, and a transcript follows below:

Welcome fellow classmates, parents, administrators, faculty, family, and friends. My name is Ricki Hernandez and I would like to thank you all for your support and encouragement.

As most of you know, Ombudsman is an alternative school. Many of us have faced different challenges that brought us here. For those of you that know my story, I am a teen parent and wife. There were a lot of challenges I faced. At the beginning of my senior year, I started with a newborn baby. I didn’t have the support I needed at home for the first six months of my daughter’s life. There were sleepless nights, money was always tight, and getting to school was a struggle.

Not being in school made me fall behind in schoolwork which resulted to failing classes. I was the Senior Class President for the first semester of the school year, failing classes led to my resignation, but in the end graduating was the most important thing I needed to accomplish. Like everyone here, they each have their own stories. I am only one of them and I believe that I am a reflection of all my fellow classmates here today.

Ombudsman doesn’t get the credit it deserves, including its students. This is the place known where the “bad” kids go, but that reputation is false and is not a part of my own experience. Instead I’ve seen students work hard and be more determined to graduate. I’ve seen them struggle and push to move forward.

Honestly, I haven’t met one “bad” student here. I met students who needed a different pathway and who overcame more obstacles, making them stronger and more prepared for the challenges ahead. Although we had to take an alternative route we still made it to the same finish line. Here, in front of me sits the amazing graduation class of 2012.

My dad has always taught me to lean of the Word of God. Jeremiah 29:211 states, “‘for I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Ombudsman was my hope. I would like to give a special thank you to all the staff at Ombudsman. Thank you for being more than just teachers but for taking the responsibility and believing in us to succeed. You have made a difference.

To my fellow classmates, as my mom always says, “To succeed is to achieve, to achieve is to believe, and to believe is to dream,” So you know what? Dream big! Your only limit is you. Set your goals high, have faith but most importantly have faith in yourself and all you have to do is reach out and grab it. Congratulations class of 2012! We did it!

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