Well, folks, that’s it.

I am Ardith L. Feroglia, Ed.M.

I spent the weekend in Corvallis, celebrating with family, friends, and fellow graduates.The theme of the weekend was not just accomplishment, but love and joy and inspiration.

Our faculty speakers, Mamta and Jeff, relayed stories of small moments in time that made lasting impacts. All of us lead lives like that, with the most inconsequential actions leading to greater change and effect. How different things would have been, for example, if I had delayed pursuing grad school by even one year. Later, my good friend, Steven, addressed the cohort as our class speaker, reminding us that although we will be inevitably separated by distance, we–the CSSA Class of 2012–will carry lasting memories of each other. And Dr. Larry Roper–just Larry to us–gave an impromptu send-off, telling us he knew the profession “would be cared for.” It meant a lot to hear these words and stories from people I admire and have the privilege of working with. They are fantastic reminders of why this field has called me to do my best work.

First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the entire graduating class the next day, a very sunny and slightly windy Sunday. She spoke of leading a rich life, a life in which success is defined on our terms–not the ideas of others or the amount of zeroes before the decimal on our paycheck. She spoke of cherishing family and friends, and she spoke of filling one’s home not with possessions, but with love. Hearing the First Lady relay her story of humble beginnings and giving up the lucrative law firm job to help people again reminded me that what I do is for the greater good. I want to change the world by positively affecting others and by challenging myself to seek out my passions, and to do so all with compassion. I am so much more than just the goofy girl with the big smile; I am love, and I am hope.

I have been absolutely blessed these past few years, despite the hardships I faced. I could not have made it to where I am today without all the great people who were there for me along the way; you know who you are.

And to my CSSA classmates, good luck in your future endeavors. I cannot wait to see what we all do.

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