Colin Tierney

Colin TierneyGood evening. My name is Colin, and I’m from the CTNS course. I am grateful to have been asked to speak for an hour or so…please get comfortable. Our lives are precious, and thank you all for sharing some of it tonight.

We don’t choose many aspects of our lives; of most things, we do not have control. But we all, for one reason or another, chose Hunter. I am thankful for it because I met wonderful people and now have the privilege to share some words with those I haven’t met, yet have commonality.

I was born over there in Port Jeff and grew up in Smithtown. I moved away when I was 19 after joining the Army. I worked for a total of three years in Afghanistan during five deployments.

We don't choose many aspects of our lives; of most things we do not have control. But we all, for one reason or another, chose Hunter.

I spent most of my 13 years as a Green Beret—a Special Forces medical sergeant. I say most because I did have to train for a while to be qualified for the job, kind of like the setup at Hunter. I now work in the IT industry and thoroughly enjoy it.

There are many evils in the world. We see them every day. I’ve fought some of them myself. But the hardest one to fight, which I’ve encountered many times, is within. When I tell people that I served in the Army and was deployed a few times, they sometimes say that they don’t know how I could do it. Simply put, it was because I was well prepared.

So, therefore, it shouldn’t be that surprising when I say some of the scariest moments in my life were the things I wasn’t prepared for.

Long ago, I encountered several situations that would shape my mental health for a while after. One of those is when my best friend and teammate, Graham, started presenting with a highly unusual set of symptoms.

I thought I was a good medic, but I was humbled. I wasn’t prepared to see my best as not enough. I just couldn’t help him or cure him, and I didn’t even know why he had the symptoms he did. It tore me up. I wasn’t prepared to be defeated like that. We went back to the main military base at Bagram to see different specialist doctors.

On our second day there, our team was engaged in one of the worst firefights of all my time in that country. The fact that I couldn’t be there as one of only two medics on a small 12-man team, when our allies were dying, affected me very much. Graham and I provided support for each other at the time, but it hurt us both deeply that we weren’t there for our brothers. I wasn’t prepared to have the guilt of a survivor.

I entangled myself too closely to my job. It cost me dearly. The ups and downs of the successes and failures that occurred daily became the rhythm of my well-being. I didn’t know that the only success or failure that matters at all is the cultivation of moral character. The decisions you make, specifically the morally good thoughts that you agree to and wish to act upon, are what really mean something.

It is not events that harm us, but our reactions that do the damage. Our thoughts and desires are the only things we can fully control. Knowing that prepares you for everything that life can throw at you. Life has thrown this graduation speech at me.

I’d like to recognize the staff of Hunter Business School, but first acknowledge those that couldn’t be with us that we might really wish could have been. Let’s think of them briefly now.

Mr. Fund Mr. President! Thank you for this opportunity. You have created a profitable operation in Hunter Business School. Not just monetarily! I think we all profited either financially, educationally, personally, or professionally.

I don’t know how much you compensate your instructors, but it can’t ever be enough. Although, I don’t just see the staff here just as paid employees delivering a service. I also see them as humans with complex and rich lives which this school helps them support.

We see news headlines every day that read something like, “Drama! So and so politician said this, then did the opposite.” “Winter storm creates travel chaos, stranding fliers and trapping drivers.” Duh. “War in Afghanistan is still happening and stuff.”

What we don’t hear about is the true greatness of normal life. “Parent of two, who works full-time Monday through Friday, enrolled in night school to pursue a career change.” “Instructor that teaches two classes a day—works from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.—successfully completes another term assisting students in accomplishing their goals.”

Some applause for the instructors and staff here please?

Alton Thank you for your technical support and keeping Hunter’s systems up and running. Also, thank you for giving my class numerous projects and tasks related to our field of study. They were, and are, very valuable experiences. The first day of many that you barged into our classroom, I recall wondering “Who the heck is this guy!?” and now it is a fond memory.

Jennifer Thank you for your hard work and dedication in finding the best positions for us out there in our newly chosen fields. The coaching you gave us for interviewing and writing a proper résumé is critically important, and you did a fantastic job.

Nancy Thank you for all the classroom lessons you gave us in the realm of career services. Some of that instruction has come in handy here tonight. Soft skills!

Lisa I don’t think we ever met face-to-face! Are you even here tonight? Thank you for working with me on the particulars of my situation regarding financial aid. You were a great help.

Mike We did meet face-to-face, plenty of times. We successfully navigated the murky waters of the Veterans Affairs educational system. Thank you so much for your aid.

Chuck Thank you for your hard work and professionalism. I watched you handle some difficult issues, and there were probably many more I couldn’t see. Thank you for cleaning up those messes so the rest of us didn’t have to.

Ahem. “Final reminder everyone: stop smoking or vaping right outside the doors of the building!

Robin You were my first interaction with Hunter Business School. It is to you that Hunter owes a lot. You are a terrific administrator. You made the decision to enroll a simple one for me.

You created a warm and welcoming enrollment process that is usually cold and heartless. And most of all, I recognized instantly what a kind and thoughtful person you are to everyone you meet. Thank you Robin.

Ms. D You were my first interaction with an instructor. I met you during my tour of the CTNS program. You sold the program to me right away with only your concise introduction. I have to say you’re the best CTNS instructor Hunter has to offer.

Only because no one can compare to my instructor, Mr. McAuliffe. I’m joking, of course. You two make a good team. I see the balance one provides the other. I saw some of the issues you and Mr. McAuliffe contended with and conquered.

You know, it was fun to play against your class in Kahoot! (educational in nature, Mr. Fund…ahem). I suppose your class won all the time only because my class didn’t have much time for games. We were busy solving the hardware and software problems your class couldn’t. Even though you weren’t my instructor, your hard work and dedication paid dividends through that wall between classrooms. Thank you, Betty.

Our class was a good one. We all got along well, and the atmosphere was pleasant. We were there for each other on several occasions, having nothing to do with academics. That is what life is all about, being there for each other.

My classmate, Joe, told me he doesn’t like speeches. Then I came up with this idea, so please follow along.

Everyone close your eyes and picture this room, picture it from different views. Try from up at this podium. Now bring your mind’s eye to the roof, where I’ve just placed a jetpack. Now strap it on.

Everyone now, blast off. Look at this building from high above. See the roof. See all those cars parked over there? Now, do you see the golf course and all the lanes? Keep flying up. Keep zooming out until you can see the entire planet, the oceans and the clouds, our Earth.

Keep this image for a little while longer. Imagine the Earth as a diamond with over seven billion facets. Isn’t it beautiful?

Each of us is one facet, and the light of the sun shines a little differently through us.

From innumerable ancestors we are born. We are many cells and microbiotic organisms and one human. We are many feelings and thoughts and one mind. We are several relatives, but one family. Many houses, one neighborhood. Many streets. One community. Many states, one country. One world, one humanity.

The world is a big place for us, but ever so tiny from the cosmic perspective.

Here is another perspective, that of Mr. McAuliffe. Patrick may not be the most graceful, a mere social appearance, yet he is full of graciousness, a character quality, often overlooked and underappreciated.

During my term, he went through a trying time personally and still maintained his professional performance. Another time he found a way through a difficult situation with a problem student the best that he could.

On a daily basis he worked hard to improve the lives of his “children,” even if it was just to make one of us smile. He not only made us better IT professionals, but contributed significantly to our improvement as students in class and as learners in life.

On a daily basis, he exemplified a compassionate and caring human being. From Pat I saw some very important lessons come about from outside the curriculum. He had a favorite saying that, on the surface, sounds very weird. “Brush your teeth, eat your string beans, do your labs.”

After hearing it for the one hundredth and fiftieth time, I realized a deeper meaning. Do the right actions. This means make good decisions and work hard at them. I agree wholeheartedly, Pat. Thank you for reminding us of that.

Please allow me to use the inspiration I’ve gotten from your advice to expand it. If there are some words to live by, I would say, “Do your best.” But on the day, you may make a mistake, be unwise in a decision, or falter in self-control. Forgive yourself often and deeply and learn.

Medical Assistants Remember that your patients are sick, they might be grumpy, but they want to be nurtured. Be at the bedside for them as you would your best friend.

Medical Billers There is a lot of work to do and always more coming. Be exact, get the details right. Save yourself and the patients as much frustration as possible. Do your best, and you will have nothing to worry about.

Computer Techs Some people just don’t care about technology, but they want it to work—even if they broke it. Have patience and fix it for them. Use the opportunity to practice your IT skills as well as your sociability.

Hard work is worth it if only to challenge yourself and meet your own potential. The satisfaction of the attempt is more valuable than any outcome. No matter how hard the work gets or how much drama there is going on, pay attention to the present moment.

If you were to think about all the tests and quizzes you were going to face during your time here, you would have been overwhelmed. The same goes for your life.

Pay attention to the present. The future is uncertain, and the past is set. Stop worrying and dwelling so much.

Mr. McAuliffe, with your example, you have administered to me a vaccination against ignorance, laziness, anger, and callousness. And though we may not talk daily anymore, please remind yourself, in my place, that you are a good person who tries your best, and that’s what matters most.

To that wife of mine out there, thank you for your support and patience throughout the years and during these last three while I rediscovered myself and the world since leaving the military. Since leaving, nothing has been easy for me. I have been an unfair and harsh critic of myself. Sometimes I have beaten myself up so much, the critic inside turned conqueror.

I’ve come to learn that you can flip your opinions upside down and around in an instant. A bad day beset by misfortune can be thought of as challenges to overcome with courage and resilience. It’s like thinking of a terrible test grade as a chance to analyze your weak areas and provide focus for your continued study.

Your mind contains a gift, the gift of reason and complex emotion. The giver is unknown, yet nature has something to do with it. Reason isn’t an achievement of humanity, but the greatest gift, on par with life itself. Even random chance makes this gift no less spectacular.

Discover your potential in the use of your gift, a gift we all share. We have all accomplished something in our lives. We have all failed at something, too.

When either of these happen, remember this. A rock thrown in the air loses nothing by coming down because it gained nothing by going up. It doesn’t matter either if it is wet or dry. A rock is still a rock.

It’s the same for people. Reputation, wealth, and health aren’t good or bad. Having a good life is about being the best person you can be, high or low.

This doesn’t mean we can’t recognize achievement when it is due and even celebrate it for a short while. Students are people striving to better themselves, a commendable trait. When you develop yourself, you make the world better. Perhaps this is in a small way, but nonetheless improved.

I am glad to be sharing this graduation with all of you. We did it. We made it. Congratulations everyone.

Bettina Downer

Bettina DownerGood evening to all of you who are able to join us this evening.

My name is Bettina, and I stand before you proud to say that I am a new graduate of the Medical Office Administration program.

When I was asked to be a guest speaker, I was immediately filled with excitement. And then reality quickly set in, as I thought to myself, “What am I going to say?”

I didn’t want to sound like a cliché, reciting famous quotes we have all heard hundreds of times. After all, I am not here auditioning for a commercial. On that note, I thought instead that I would talk about my journey through Hunter Business School and the words of those special people in my life that helped me to succeed.

Life has many roads, but you are your own vehicle. Where would you love to go?

My life has not been a sob story, nor has it been laced with all of the finer things. One day I found myself stressing over what my life had come to. I had gone through some big changes, including being a fairly new full-time single mom while working a full-time job that didn’t pay enough.

I have always been a very analytical person…and just a little bit of a perfectionist. Whenever I was faced with difficult times and decisions in my life, my mother would help me to settle my overactive mind and say to me, “Stop overthinking. Just breathe and keep going. The answer will come to you.”

One day it did. I came across Hunter Business School while looking for ways in which I might improve my situation. Then a whole new flood of thoughts came over me. Could I really do it, be a full-time mom, full-time employee, and full-time student? I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money.

Who would watch my daughter? An accelerated program? What if I fail? What was I thinking?!?

Then I took that breath, and I thought that I can’t keep robbing Peter to pay Paul. I am not living the life I wanted for myself. I refused to accept that the path I was on was for me. I made the decision to not only invest in bettering myself, but to succeed.

Truth be told, we all had different reasons for pursuing an education here. What sets us apart from so many others in this world is our moments of decision. Once you have decided to do anything worthwhile in your life and you take the first step to follow that decision through, it changes you. It ignites a flame in you where you know that you can—and you will—see it through.

First you just have to make the decision to do so. I know first-hand that this process is not easy.

I had some low moments where I began to doubt myself because I stumbled or failed. My best friend reminded me, “It’s O.K. to fall. Stay down for a minute to learn where and why you failed. Then get your ass up!”

Even in an accelerated program, each month—heck, each day—seemed longer than usual. When I would complain about how tired I was and how badly I just wanted to stop, my other “tough love” best friend would encourage me and tell me, “Suck it up, buttercup. Put your big girl pants on and do what you have to do.” Then she would hang up on me.

My support system helped to keep me focused and reminded me that my short-term suffering was a temporary step to gaining a lifetime of improvement.

There are a number of decisions that we make in life, and they can take us along many roads, some easy and some difficult. While the easy ones can be great, the difficult ones will pull you out of your comfort zone and make you think outside the box. At the end of these journeys, you’ll discover something new about yourself.

I discovered that I am able to let go, ask for help, and actually allow others to help me. I discovered that I can be a positive influence to others and that my superpower is influencing a classroom to leave early.

I discovered that you can heed the advice, wisdom, and influence of others while still staying true to yourself and end up better for it. As a good friend has told me time and again, “Trust the process. It works.”

On behalf of myself and my fellow graduates, we thank you for your time, your support, and your commitment helping us on our journey. Along with the wisdom of my loved ones, I leave you with this.

Life has many roads, but you are your own vehicle. Where would you love to go?

Obed Toussaint

Obed ToussaintGood evening, everyone. I would like to welcome Hunter’s graduating class of 2019!

Let me first start off by thanking all the teachers, staff, supporters, and individuals who helped put all this together this evening. Thank you.

As many of you can attest, Hunter has been nothing short of amazing. Through my own experience, I can say it has exceeded all my expectations from A to Z.

I came to this school hesitant, not knowing what door would be waiting for me at the end of the road, or even giving a speech come graduation. But as some of you like to call me “class president,” I felt obligated to rise to the occasion.

Change starts here.

Personally, I feel one of the most difficult things most of us face is finding where do we fit on the puzzle board that is better known as society. This is where the drum rolls come in, the bass drops heavier than air, and you’re faced with life’s many decisions.

Swoops in Hunter Business School to the rescue, opening doors, expanding minds, unlocking potentials, and providing the tools with a manual to make sense of it all.

Not to forget the friends we made on the way. From the long study sessions, to the many laughs and the support we gave one another, these will always be cherished.

Without Hunter Business School, I’m not sure where I would be. What I can tell you is that at Hunter, “Change starts here.” And it’s been here that mine and yours have been changed forever.

This day is for all of us. Congratulations, Hunter Class of 2019!

Trevor Coore

Trevor CooreGood evening, Hunter graduates.

As I stand here before you, I would like to share my favorite quote, from Martin Luther King, Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Sometimes, as individuals, we are afraid to take a step and see where we can end up in life. When I made my first decision to choose Hunter Business School for the Medical Assistant program, I absolutely did not know what I was going to go through. But I can proudly say that this was the best choice I made back in July 2017.

Through this program here at Hunter, I overcame many obstacles to maintain my GPA over 3.5. Working overnights and going to school during the evening was a challenge, but I managed to keep my faith that I would continue to study what I was passionate about.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Being in the health care field to me is a steppingstone for me to succeed. Throughout this process, I managed to build relationships with my instructors and my classmates. I also was involved with the Student Council throughout this program and stayed actively involved with the staff and students here at Hunter.

It amazes me how Hunter became another part of me. You start off as strangers and then become a big family. I am honored to graduate here today and be part of the National Technical Honor Society.

Career Services was extremely helpful finding interviews for me to find a job. I am now employed at Northwell Health GoHealth Urgent Care as a medical assistant.

Finally, my advice to every graduate is that this is only the beginning once we leave here tonight. Always continue to push yourself and climb to the top of that staircase. There are many more obstacles that we will face in our lifetime, but know that you are stronger to overcome them.

This whole process was worth it in the end.

Thank you to Hunter Business School for choosing me to speak today as part of the Medical Assistant program. I’m honored that this speech will mean something to you today.