TALAE 2010 Scholarship Recipient
Hello, Thank You All, Howdy Ma, etc. Pleasure to be here. Well, the last time I gave a speech like this I was nervous out of my mind. Thankfully, I am now enrolled at Del Mar College, nice place by the way, and in the process of taking a public speaking course. After a full 3 and one half weeks I feel confident this speech should be brilliant, that, or a certain instructor, who shall remain nameless, has a drop slip in her future.
Speaking of which, I have a persuasive speech coming up shortly in that class, so if I start trying to convince you to eat less red meat, I’m giving you the wrong speech and you’ll know why. But in all seriousness, I can hardly express what a joy and honor it is to be standing here today.
If someone had told me a year ago I was going to be the highest scoring GED graduate in Texas and recipient of the Texas Association for Literacy & Adult Education scholarship, why, I would have told them, naturally. And was this before or after the dream where I have super powers and I’m dating Salma Hayek. Or since I’m having to give a speech maybe it’s more like the one where I show up at work in my underwear.
Now I have been told I am supposed to talk about my journey here and goals for the future. But there’s really nothing special about my life. I grew up in a bus, I worked in the circus, and I spent summers in Belize and Guatemala. Pretty standard stuff really. I’m seeing some heads shaking, maybe not. Alright, a few words.
Now I really did spend the first 20 years or so of my life in a modified school bus, RV, boat, trailer, or other relocateable habitat while my parents traveled from one end of the country to the other, looking for the perfect place to raise us kids. And during that time I spent about a year in the circus around the age of 6. Oh, and for the record I wasn’t swinging from a high-wire or running around in a clown suit, well not during actual performances anyway, my dad just helped set up and kept things running, but hey, LIVED IN A CIRCUS! Show me a kid who never wanted to do that.
And after my parents gave up looking for the perfect place in America, we moved to Central America when I was 9, while my dad worked on a ranch. We never found that perfect place. But we ended up in Texas, take that for what you will. But none of those things are what brought me here. Well technically the bus did.
So what did bring me here? What brought me here are some of the most amazing people I have had the good fortune to meet. What brought me here is a staff who never seemed to treat what they did like a job, but like some higher calling. What brought me here is an outstanding program that has some of the highest graduation rates in the state, despite a lack of funding, respect, and copy paper. What brought me here is the GED center at Del Mar.
And, credit where credit is due, what brought me here is my long suffering and infinitely loving mother, who homeschooled me the whole time we traveled the nation and beyond. Looks like ya did an alright job, mom. I’m sorry, I had to slip that in, you guys at the GED center did a bang up job, but you had me in and out the door in about a month; my mom has been stuck with me for 25 years.
Yes, all that, and a one dollar loan from Ms. Harrison to cover dues. That one dollar it would seem goes quite a long way. As I understand it, the TALAE scholarship is funded by the dollars collected from students like me and members like you. To be the recipient of such a generous gift is both an honor and an opportunity that I plan to take full advantage of. Thank you all so much for your dollars, I will use them wisely.
Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I cannot thank all the people who helped bring me here enough. Your never ending encouragement and dedication proved to me that I did have the skills to succeed, and perhaps more importantly, you gave me the confidence to take me into college and my dreams beyond. So what’s my dream? I wish I could tell you with an absolute clar ity what my future holds. But in all honesty, I don’t know. And ya know what? That’s what gets me up in the morning. And I don’t mean fright or worry that I have no grand plan for life. But the magnificent adventure of it all, the fresh discoveries of each day, the new places, people, experiences, and knowledge that make life, at least for me, worth living.
Some might say that I’m naïve, and that the crushing reality of real life is bound to catch up with me eventually. But it hasn’t yet, and if I have my way it never will, because as far as I’m concerned I can think of no better way to live. Or as Elwyn Brooks White put it, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
Thank you all once again, and Ms. Harrison. About that dollar, would ya take cash or a check?
Ray received a $4,000 scholarship for having scored 3710 points on his GED test.