I spent so much time on this speech and would hate not to share it. here is what was supposed to be my commencement speech.

The past few months have been very unpredictable but despite everything, we’ve adapted and completed our last semester. I am incredibly proud to be a part of such a unique graduating class and to that I congratulate us all, Class of 2020.

Without further ado, My name is Grace Martins and I am not your commencement speaker.

Would you believe me if I told you I am a shy person? Most people who got to know me these past three years will find that almost impossible to believe. See, I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and for sixteen years, my circle of friends was barely a circle.

Brandon Sanderson once said, “If nobody asked questions, then we would never learn anything,” but honestly, I think my mom said it better. As a shy kid, she had always encouraged me to come out of my shell saying, “asking questions, however dumb they may seem to be is the key to success.”

Growing up, I was surrounded and inspired by healthcare professionals. At the age of 10, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to become one of them- Grace Martins, M.D. – a medical doctor had a nice ring to it. As confident as I was, my worries were bigger and louder- how exactly will I get there? I asked myself 

 Like the present situation of our world right now… we know that life isn’t always going to go as planned. At the age of 16, when I came to the United States, I thought about the sacrifices my family made to get me here. And I asked myself once again, How about Grace Martins, RN, BSN? A shorter, less expensive alternative.

And so, I enrolled in CCBC with the hopes of achieving these goals. I was a shy nursing major, eager to expand my circle and become successful. How was I going to do that? Well, by following my mother’s words and I guess Brandon Sanderson’s too- asking LOTS of questions.

Speaking of questions, didn’t I say life won’t go exactly as planned? On April 5th, 2019, I received an email that made my worries even bigger and louder. It said, “Dear First Name, Last Name”- no really, it actually did. I was denied acceptance to the nursing program and as a meticulous planner, this news created a huge dent in my hopes and dreams.  

I asked myself, “What am I doing wrong? How can I do better?” And gave myself pep talks like; I can’t give up, a goal is a goal. When life becomes as stubborn as it was towards me, I ask you, Class of 2020, to pause and reflect. Ask how you’re going to overcome rejections and failures but more importantly, ask how these rejections and failures help you become the best version of yourself.

Today, this nursing program reject will graduate as a better friend, 5 star PTK member, an Honors student, Jack Kent Cooke semifinalist, and a Student Life leader. She’ll be finishing her nursing degree at her top choice university. And as I look back at my time here, I thank CCBC for the experience, and the opportunity to not only be successful but also to become the stronger and more determined version of myself.

So, CCBC’s graduating class of 2020, I encourage each and every one of us to never stop asking questions because these questions are the foundation for our bright future, a future where we will change the world for the better.