2017 GED Graduate, Marisa Cook, shares her success story.
Marisa Cook has overcome many obstacles to get where she is today. She shared her story in a commencement speech May, 25th at Eastland-Fairfield Career Graduation ceremony.
In life, we often hear the phrase that we dug a hole we can’t get out of. For me this was very true. At the age of 10 I was removed from my mother’s custody and placed with a family member. I went through what I thought was hell. Abuse became my daily reality and I couldn’t escape. By the age of 12 I was placed in foster care. I was bounced around from home to home. I felt like I didn’t belong and I didn’t feel loved. I didn’t dig this hole–it was dug for me.
Eventually I started digging my own holes. I created these holes based on my own poor choices, such as doing the bare minimum in school and at times not doing anything at all. I started running with the wrong crowd after school. Two months before turning 18 I dropped out of high school. Ironically it was THIS school to be exact, Eastland Career Center! I gave up on everything and settled for less. The decision to live the party lifestyle took over my dreams.
Family and friends would constantly ask when am I going to graduate? I’d try my best to avoid these conversations. I’d always feel so guilty and ashamed afterwards. I want to take this time to thank my family and friends that were always on my case about doing better. You gave me the shove I needed.
In February of this year my fiance handed me the phone number for the ABLE program and told me to give them a call. I was scared to make the first step–scared I would fail again. But by this point I was tired of living in holes that had been dug for me and to be truthful, that I was digging for myself. I realized that the holes were my excuses, and I was tired of living in them. When one is accustomed to living in holes they can’t see the beauty of the world. Their view is obstructed by dirt and filth that’s all around them. I desired a better view of life. I wanted to build towers, where the view is a lot better! Enough was enough. No more running—it was time to get serious and build towers.
I began setting goals for myself and my family, and in particular regarding my studies. I quickly realized that when I accomplished a goal my view of life improved dramatically! Every goal became a new and taller tower with views of my life I never imagined I could attain. Every goal I set for myself is predicated upon the desire to achieve for my son and fiance. I want to give our son the best life possible.
In addition to setting goals regarding my studies, I also reevaluated those in my inner circle and my own thought life and speech. I would ask myself “Are the people in my circle really out for my best interest? Am I hanging out with positive people who will only help reinforce my goals, or those who only intend to drag me down?” Additionally, I changed my thought patterns. I stopped using words and terms like “failure” or “I can’t” and instead focused on “I can,” “I will,” and “Success!”
I began attending classes in February of this year, and immediately told my instructors my goal of completing my GED by May 18th. My instructors helped me understand the importance of setting aside study time, staying positive, and focusing on the right study materials. They were some of my biggest motivators and cheerleaders. When May was rapidly approaching I began scheduling my exams…Social Studies….PASS! Science…..PASS! Language Arts….PASS! I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. My final exam…Math…was scheduled for May 10th, and guess what? PASS!!
So tonight, I’m standing on top of a tower! I can look down and see the holes I used to stand in, but I’m never going back. I know now that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, such as continuing my education. For those of you in the room who may share a similar story as me, I would encourage you to never give up. I would emphasize that just because you’ve been dealt a bad hand in life, or you’ve dug yourself a hole, doesn’t mean you need to stay where you are. There are towers to be built, goals to be accomplished, and an entirely new life of possibilities that await you. So keep on keeping on! Thanks to all the teachers, students, and families for joining us this evening. I think I can speak on behalf of all my fellow graduates that your support meant the world to us, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
We are very happy to share that Marisa will be starting phlebotomy school in August of 2017. Thanks for sharing your story, Marisa. You believed in yourself and stepped out of your comfort-zone. May your future be brighter than you ever imagined possible!