This speech was originally given by Tim Stillman at on December 8, 2017 at Fall Commencement.
It is a great honor to be speaking to all of you today. It has been quite the interesting ride. We all have had ups and downs during our time here at western…downs of course meaning this week of finals. But we have all made it and I couldn’t be more proud of every single graduate today.
All week, I have been trying to figure out what to say today. If I could, I would talk for hours about our experiences here at Western, but unfortunately for me, fortunately for you, they gave me a time limit.
I would like to talk about the past, since everyone here has one. Most people who know me, know about what I have achieved in my past. However, today I would like to talk about some things that most people don’t know about me.
Earlier in life, I took a dark path, and this path let me to using Heroin for many years. During this time, I had lost everything. I became homeless for quite some time. I lost many people around me, and on multiple occasions I about lost my own life. I’ve seen things that most people shouldn’t have to see. I’ve experienced things that most people should never have to experience. But all in all, I’m glad I did. If I could go back and change the past, I wouldn’t, because the past is what makes me who I am today. This leads me to my first message, never regret or be ashamed of your past, because you may have never been here had you not gone through what you did.
I knew I had to change my life around, or I was going to die. And so, I did. Western has been a crucial part to helping me do just that. I have met many wonderful people during the past 5 years here whom I am honored to call my friends, and many more whom I’m honored to call my family. With that, I would like to thank the Staff, Faculty, Administration and everyone in general at Western, because if it weren’t for all of you, it would not have been the same for most of us.
I have been able to succeed and excel in life way beyond anything I could have ever thought possible. This leads me to my final message. It doesn’t matter what you have been through or what your past may look like, every single one of you has the potential to do amazing things. Through my own experiences, I have learned that it takes 6 main concepts to become successful, and to achieve anything you have your heart set on.
Willingness: You must be willing to deal with anything life throws at you.
Open-Mindedness: You must be openminded about new ideas, experiences, and even career paths and opportunities that present themselves to you.
Persistence: When someone tells you, “No, you can’t do that”, “You will never achieve that”, “You’re not smart enough”, you can add to the list as much as you want, prove them wrong if it’s your dream, and continue… continue… continue… until you achieve that dream.
4 & 5, Hard work and dedication. If you think people are going to hand you anything in this world, you’re crazy. You are going to have to work your butt off to get where you want to be in life.
And lastly but certainly not the least, you must be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody that you’re not, I mean, you can try, but eventually your true self will come out, so what’s the point.
If you can succeed at doing these 6 things, I guarantee that you will achieve a life beyond your wildest dreams, and that each of you will make us all very proud. If I can do it, then there isn’t a shadow of a doubt that every one of you can do just the same, if not better.
Good Luck and God Speed.