Dowagiac Graduate Gives Commencement Speech at MSC Graduation – Leader Publications


DOWAGIAC — Two Latina women spoke on behalf of Southwestern Michigan College’s class of 2022 April 30 during the 55th graduation ceremony for 347 students in the theater of the Dale A. Lyons Building on SMC’s Dowagiac campus.

Leticia Marquez, of Sister Lakes, addressed the School of Arts and Sciences on Saturday morning, while Miranda Gonzalez, of Constantine, addressed the schools of business, advanced technology and nursing and health. Saturday afternoon.

Born in Sebastian, Texas, Marquez graduated from Dowagiac Union High School in 2020 and the oldest of seven children – two of whom also attend SMC. Marquez aspires to become a doctor.

Already a phlebotomist, Marquez is the first member of his family to earn an associate’s degree. President of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Local Chapter of the International Honor Society for Two-Year Colleges, she belonged to the SMC Honors Program, the Alpha Kappa Omega Bible Club, and the Communications Interest Group. She has served as Orientation and Onboarding Week Leader, Education Talent Search Mentor, and transferred to the University of Michigan.

“Growing up in a Hispanic household of nine, college wasn’t a topic that came up, although education was always seen as a way out of poverty and rigorous physical labor while throughout life,” Marquez said. “Higher education beyond high school was not mentioned due to my parents never graduating from high school.”

As the daughter of retired migrant farm workers, Marquez said her parents and siblings learned the power of education from their parents.

“When I was studying late at night in the kitchen, they were like, ‘Stay focused. Study hard, so you don’t struggle in life like us,” she said. “In high school, I challenged myself to take dual-enrolment classes at SMC. Once I decided to pursue a career in medicine, I knew how to get a head start. I attended SMC because I had a sense of belonging.

Marquez said there were times when she was overwhelmed by the language barrier.

“My educational career since Head Start has been a hectic roller coaster with constant identity crises,” she said. “I tried to differentiate between Spanish and English to the point that I became speechless.”

She credited her tenacity and determination as a student to her success and encouraged other

“Have a positive mindset,” Marquez said. “You don’t have to be the smartest in your class or the best in your profession to be successful. Asking for help is not a weakness, but a strength. When we encounter setbacks, we learn more about our potential and savor our success more after the trials.

Gonzalez, originally from Akron, Ohio, moved to Michigan with her husband, Pedro. In addition to earning her Associate of Applied Science degree in Information Technology Networking, she is entering her final year at Ferris State University this fall. She worked for SMC’s IT Help Desk and interned at Spectrum Health-Lakeland and Danum Inc. She received a scholarship from the Michigan Council of Women in Technology and also belongs to PTK.

“I’m excited to live in a time when we watch innovations unfold,” Gonzalez said. “As a woman and a Latina, I have every opportunity to engage in this world.”

Gonzalez said she followed a less than traditional path, earning her GED in her mid-twenties while working in the service and manufacturing industries.

“There were times along the way where I wondered if I belonged here, if I was capable and if I had what it takes to finish,” she said. “I concluded that it is not an outside voice that answers these questions for us. Instead, we find our truth in the decisions we make every day to pick ourselves up and try new, hard things that will get us where we want to go.

His speech was intended to encourage the other students.

“I know each of you has your own story of how you came to this moment of fulfillment,” Gonzalez said. “Some have recently graduated from high school. Some, like me, are returning students. You had special moments in class and moments in life, and for different reasons at different times, you may have gone through doubt and discouragement. Only you know the full story of the road that brought you here. … My hope for each of us is that we not only recognize the superpower of each of our individual experiences and ideas, but the power we generate when we bring those experiences together.

Provost Dr. David Fleming announced six students got all A’s, AnnaLynn Renae Waterman from Niles, Kayla Farrow from Coloma, Erin Gould from Granger, Reagan Hartman from Union, Kaitlyn Kalling from Niles and Brittany Phillips from Bridgman .

“Whether you’re transferring or jumping straight into your career, what you started here can take you anywhere,” said SMC President Dr. Joe Odenwald. “You are a Roadrunner for life. You are always welcome on campus for academic, artistic and sporting events. Stay tuned as an alum so we can build the next generation of Roadrunners. You have my word that we work daily to enhance your diploma.

Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Jerdon thanked “MSC staff, faculty and trustees for another year of dedication to student success – especially during the difficult times of the past year”.

Jerdon introduced the board members who have collectively given 120 years of combined service to SMC, including Secretary Beth Cripe, Treasurer Becky Moore, and Trustees Dr. Elaine Foster, Tracy Hertsel and Bill White.


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