FORT WORTH, Texas (May 11, 2012)
“The jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be…because of all that I may become, I will close my eyes and leap!”
— Commencement speaker Danielle Miles quoting student, author, teacher and inspirer Maryanne Radmacher’s letter to her mentor before making the life-changing decision to give up her career to follow her dreams as a writer
Keen awareness that she was not the only one to overcome challenges motivated Tarrant County College commencement speaker and 2012 graduate Danielle Miles to salute the achievements of her fellow graduates and challenge all present to pursue their dreams.
“I was asked to recognize my story as empowering…an example of courage, instead I choose to recognize that everyone here is faced with daily obstacles and disabilities challenging them,” Miles said.
“We have all had our own struggle throughout our lives and our time here at Tarrant County College. I have met students with cancer still on the path towards their bachelors, students who have brought their children to class because they did not have the financial means or loyal support for a sitter, and students who have maintained multiple jobs and classes at other schools just to get by while still continuing on their path here in hopes of a better tomorrow.”
Miles, 20, left home at 15, moved from school to school for three years, dropped out of school at 16, and was a single parent by 17. Eventually, she was diagnosed with social anxiety, severe anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and bipolar disorder. Later, she had to make decisions affecting both her life and the life of her unborn baby.
It was the arrival of her newborn daughter that gave Miles the jump start she needed to improve her life. “Avery, my daughter, gave me courage; courage to enroll, courage to continue, and courage to complete,” she said.
Miles’ motivation to set high standards resulted in a spotless academic record and extensive community service. Notable accomplishments include several Cornerstone Honors Program offices, including president, and several Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Delta Delta offices, including vice president of leadership. Her passion for giving was apparent through involvement with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Fort Worth Relay for Life, and literacy efforts at W.J. Turner Elementary School.
As a result of her success at the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association at Southern Methodist University, Miles has been actively recruited by the University of North Texas coach to join its team next year. She has been accepted to UNT Honors College to complete double degrees in finance and economics, and has earned several scholarships including the Outstanding Achievement Award and a transfer award.
“The difference between us here tonight and those who are not is the simple fact that our dreams were bigger than the inconvenience of our obstacles. Instead of letting them defeat us, we used them as empowerment to push through and to continue forward,” Miles said. “Every day we have embraced our lives, fought through the barriers placed in front of us, and made the choices necessary to get to where we want to be.”
Thanking family and friends for supporting graduates, Miles said, “We will succeed because of our choices, but we will also succeed because of the choices you have made for us.”
Miles challenged graduates and their family and friends to reach for the next opportunity. “Every time you make a step to do something that you have never done before by answering yes, you learn a pivotal lesson in being prepared and gain a sense of courage that will NEVER leave you.”
After their degrees were conferred, graduates received TCC Alumni Association pins as a symbol of their accomplishments and membership in the association.
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