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[These were prepared remarks that due to a miscommunication I did not get a chance to share at the 2012 Zion Honors, the Baccalaureate Celebration at my church on June 9, 2012 … I’m sharing them here as I know my dream may be that of some other adult, woman, or grandmother, who just needs to take the first step of faith.]  
            On this occasion to celebrate our graduates, I want to share that I’ve always been an advocate for education and mentoring young people.  In 1990, we had our first Baccalaureate Celebration at Zion which later evolved into The Zion Honors.  I planned and facilitated these celebrations for 18 years.  One year, inspired and proud, I casually stated one day I’m going to be in a graduating class of The Zion Honors.  In 2007, when I turned 50 years old, I decided to go back to school.  In the spring of 2008, I took my first class towards completing my degree, taking classes in the evening and online, and here I stand today, a graduate of the Class of 2012.  So with that I emphatically say to any adult in this room, you can do it too. Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
            Lastly, I came across this quote by Richard Smucker, CEO and Director of the JMSmucker Company (who, by the way, makes $870.1K a year)
One.  Never compromise on your values of honesty and integrity.
Self-respect is the principal thing … if you do not respect yourself, no one else will.
Two. Set yourself apart from the crowd.  Always do ‘a little extra.’  (Be excellent; Be STAR QUALITY) … Which reminds me of an occasion in one of my classes … I provided handouts to the class for my presentation and along with my name, I put a “StarQuality Presentation” and someone asked about it … my response was that’s my moniker, everything I do is excellent. When I got home, someone sent me a FB message saying that inspired them so much, because that’s the perspective everyone should have.
Three. Say ‘Thank you’ whenever possible.  You’ll be noticed, and it’s the right thing to do.
And along with that, say “Please”, say “Excuse Me”, say “You’re welcome”.
Four. Remember, whether you know it now or not, your mother is almost always right.”
Ask my children, Terry, Brandon and Camille 🙂
At time of this post, 7.6.2012 … 
Next week, I will make my last presentation and submit my last paper for my BA degree in Nonprofit Administration.  If it is the Lord’s Will and I know it is … I will participate in the fall Commencement on Sunday, December 16, 2012! (And celebrate my 55th BD four days later.)
This hasn’t been an easy journey, but it has been mine, in God’s time for me. I’ve learned so much and broadened my outlook on life and overall I have become a better me.  I have learned to love myself, celebrate myself, and although I still get scarred sometimes, I’m not bound by fear in the way I used to be.
To God be the glory for the GREAT things He has done for me!  He alone is so worthy of praise! *Q