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Heather Dodson

Someone who always wanted to take care of people


“Family, friends, professors, and administrators: Welcome to the class of 2022’s graduation.

Numerous obstacles stood in our way, but we have finally made it; today, we are tasting our success. We’re graduating, and what a surreal moment this is; I know some of you in the audience today have been facing trials and tribulations throughout your academic careers. And I know for a lot of us, this moment never seemed feasible until this very second as we sit here. Well, that’s the case for me; even as I wrote this speech, I never thought I would be standing here receiving my degree, honestly, not until this very moment, and you might be curious why I felt this way.

When we experience failure, we like to mark it off with red tape; we close off that whole section and say, “we can no longer go over there,” and “We can no longer touch that,” because we failed. However, where there is a failure, success becomes a realization. And that awareness of accomplishment may not happen the moment you are unsuccessful. That clarity may not appear for days, weeks, or even years. However, the moment that realization arises, I promise you will be surprised that your failure was also a success. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

Do you know how I know? Because Yavapai College has given me: the realization that all my past failures were merely crucial moments to get me to this successful milestone. One of my most notable failures was believing everyone’s perception that education and college aren’t for everyone, including me. Throughout my academic career, I was under the impression that because I am dyslexic, I couldn’t be brilliant. I believed that perception so much that I dropped out of high school, despite always loving learning. I unknowingly let failure hold me back from countless opportunities for years, from every conversation to every job position; I was ashamed of who I am and those failures that come with my name.

I am immensely grateful and unquestionably blessed that Yavapai College is where I chose to start my academic career over. Because it was walking through the Rough Rider doors, I got introduced to the real me for the first time. My moment of clarity arose without me even noticing. It felt like overnight; my learning disability was no longer a weakness, I was no longer ashamed to admit that it is a part of who I am, me being a high school dropout no longer holds me back from what I want to do.

The realization that those past failures now push and drive me further towards success daily because I acknowledge that I no longer want to live in those failures. We must remind ourselves that even when we are experiencing failure, it’s there for us not to take our success for granted; failure allows us the opportunity to bounce back better than we thought we could and learn from those mistakes. I honestly believe I would never have tried so hard in college if I hadn’t experienced my failures.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts, success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Therefore, class of 2022, I leave you with this, don’t be afraid to experience failure, and don’t let those failures define you; sometimes, things don’t go right on the first attempt, so don’t be discouraged in the face of those challenges, for your second chances is the real success you were meant to reach.”

Read more about Heather Dodson in this AZ Signals article here.