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Choosing the Mount by Brittany Gale

Brittany Gale will be graduating on May 23 from MWCC with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. What follows is a message from her to the class of 2019.

I would like to say congratulations to all the graduates! As a fellow graduate, I know how hard you worked to get to this point. Throughout my journey here at Mount Wachusett Community College, I’ve been asked “What does MWCC mean to me?” Each time, I would contemplate the question and answer to my best understanding. Now that I’m completing this step in my journey, I finally have my conclusion. Mount Wachusett Community College means a chance at the American dream that all my life I was told was out of reach. I was taught to settle, to accept what is and know that the good lives we saw on television were false realities. MWCC gave me a chance to break that stigma that surrounded my life.

I grew up in a poverty-stricken family, surrounded by other families that struggled as much as we did. My mother was very sick, and my father was physically and emotionally abusive so the essentials on how to create a great life were never passed along.  I did not know what credit was or even what a GPA was. I have four older siblings that gave the local school systems the run around, essentially tiring them out. So, when it was my turn, the school had low expectations of me.  I got caught up in a rough crowd and dropped out of school, going down the path that was basically promised to me. It was when my disabled mother begged me to go back to high school that I walked away from a life of uncertainty. It opened my eyes and allowed me to see the damage I was already doing.  Because I finally had a little support, I graduated with honors from the local night school program. I was the first of my siblings to graduate high school. Unfortunately, my mother passed away twenty-eight days later. My siblings and I had already endured so much but that moment broke our humbled spirts. With my father in prison and our beloved mother gone we felt like orphans.

Eighteen and on my own, I was naive and figured that I’d already won by graduating high school. I started working at a local company and established a good name for myself. I had two beautiful daughters down the road. In 2014 my oldest daughter was in a horrific accident that landed her in the ICU. It taught me life is so precious and that was when I realized not only did my children deserve more but so did I. I reached out to Mount Wachusett Community College and everything became so real. I learned how to be responsible with money, how to make new friends and how to find myself along the way. My childhood home life had beaten the spirit out of me and yet this college helped me find the broken pieces and restore me to a strong, confident woman. This college has shown me how to not settle for average but reach for extraordinary. Mount Wachusett Community College has shown me a world of understanding and support that I never knew existed. Because of MWCC, I’m not another statistic of poverty. This is my chance to break the cycle and give my children a real chance in life, and for that I thank you MWCC.

Now I have all the support I could dream of. I’ve been involved with CCAMPIS for help with my youngest daughter’s care. Being able to connect with other parents was very important to me. I learned I was not alone and there were people who cared and who became an important resource in times of need. I was also elected the president of the Student Nurse Association club here at MWCC. This allowed me to build strong connections in the local community and taught me valuable leadership and teamwork skills. I also have the TRIO Program, RX, that became my foundation and is more helpful than words can say. They offered great advice and allowed me to create forever friends through group events. They offered effective tutoring for which some classes would otherwise have been impossible to complete. After perseverance and great guidance, I was accepted into the nursing program. I was surrounded by strong, loving individuals who wanted nothing more than for us to succeed. I built friendships that will last a lifetime. The professors helped mold us into our own skin and find the balance of the chaos that surrounds nursing. They where firm yet supportive till the last day.

MWCC is family, community and comfort. I feel at home when I walk through the doors. From Admissions, to the Financial Aid office, to the bookstore, all staff is here to make all students feel at home and welcome. I love the library as I have spent most of my time there. The atmosphere crackles with knowledge as staff and students alike buzz around all for the same goal. This college helped me find my place in a world that I thought forgot about me. MWCC is my home.

Life leads us to many roads, some not that desirable. My journey has been a series of moments that was left in my hands to decipher. The cards I was continuously dealt expected me to look at the glass half empty, but I couldn’t. I may not have parents, but I have my loving siblings. I have created a loving family of my own with a man who adores me and children that I get to show the real world to. I may have been pushed down many times but only to rise again to something better. I challenge you all to embrace your roots. Without them there is no beginning to who you are. Do not be embarrassed of what you cannot change. You will be surprised at how many can relate to your history. I also challenge you to embrace tomorrow with open arms. You have already come so far. Commencement means the beginning, so allow today be the first day of your legacy.

I stand here in front of you proud, confident and prepared to move forward into my nursing career because Mount Wachusett Community College believed in me. All your faces represent a story of how you overcame obstacles and built your foundations to have successful lives. I see the power of our future in your eyes and hope the world is ready for the excellence that you will bring forward. Use the momentum from your experience here and build a prosperous life in all aspects of the word. Fight for what you believe in. Remember dreams are the start to needed change, so always help the next one in line. Whatever course you choose to follow, I wish you great success. I am proud to be beside you ready to celebrate a tremendous victory. Here’s to the class of 2019! We did it!