Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, Alumni, Alumnus and Students:
My name is Martin Douge and I now have my G.E.D.. Right about now I expect Bill and
Ted to show up and save me from speaking… As we can see, that expectation didn’t happen
either. I also didn’t expect to be here at this part of my life speaking to you this evening,
but I am eternally grateful that I am.
You see, Edmonds Community College has not only opened its doors to my education, it
has opened itself as well into my life.
I had struggled for years with poor health and few real
job possibilities, my body had changed completely, my mind clearing up after years of
addictions. The options I had were few, and I didn’t care for any of them, and the thought
of school brought an ominous anxiety back to mind. Left with few choices I gathered up
what I could as far as gumption and signed up to at least try to finish my G.E.D..
The first week of classes a serious health condition that I thought was in the past showed
itself again, I was already beginning to struggle. That was when the character of the
college showed itself…
The understanding and kindness that was shown to me as a person
was almost too much to believe, and I was relieved to the point of tears.
The concern was for me as a person, me as a real life person, not too weak from illness,
not the recovered alcoholic, but the value of me as a person was given full measure.
When you are feeling less than, and beaten down, to have your whole being nurtured is
an amazing feeling. There is value in that lesson, there is character in that lesson, there is
community in that lesson.
An instructor has used the word resilience to describe me, another
educator reminded me that I did hold a degree from the school of hard knocks. I don’t
count those things as the reason I am speaking tonight. I don’t have a big horn to blow, I
do not enjoy the attention. But I can see how the power of simply being an example has
had an overwhelming effect on my life. I can see the power in seeing and accepting the
whole person as a part of having a full experience, and an inclusive one as well.
In my life the pathways to learning have come agonizingly slow at times and too quickly
at others. I am grateful to be here tonight, to be accepted not only by a school, but a
community as well. As we travel off into our lives there will no doubt come a day when a
question is asked about college. I hope that you look back on it as I will, as an experience
that taught me the value of the people that not only changed my world, but the worlds
they will change in the future.