Diana graduated from Aviva Residential Treatment and Aviva High School in 2015. Here’s an excerpt of the speech she read at her Commencement ceremony:
Good afternoon my name is Diana. I would like to start off by saying thank you all for coming, and by sharing a quote that has stuck with me through my senior year:
Life is like the ocean. Waves will try to knock you down and push you back to where you started but once you fight through them, the entire ocean is yours.
Now that it’s graduation I feel like it’s time to start fresh. Starting with leaving the past behind and truly forgiving everybody.
I didn’t have a regular childhood. I spent most of my middle school years hopping between foster homes because families could not tolerate my bad behavior.
My home situation was tough as the only child because I didn’t feel like I had a big support system. I grew up without a father, and my mother was always out working late to give me the perfect life. In the beginning I felt like my mother never understood me and was controlling me. I thought that all the other moms were cool and that my mom didn’t want me to be young, wild and free.
It was when I landed in placement after getting kicked out of three foster homes that I almost pushed my mom over her limit. I was introduced to narcotics, and alcohol, and engaged in risk-taking behaviors. I started to depend on alcohol. If I felt depressed, angry, hungry, happy, scared or experienced any other change in emotions, I immediately tried solving my problem by drinking.
My mother didn’t understand why I was acting absurd, which enraged me and gave me an excuse to drink more. It was hard to express myself when I didn’t even understand my own feelings. So I just smiled and acted happy.
Hiding my feelings with drugs and alcohol was probably one of the worst things I have done. The withdrawal was probably one of the worst feelings ever, because I was battling with myself in my mind.
Eventually placement couldn’t and wouldn’t continue handling my absurd behavior, defiance, physical altercations, frequent AWOLs, and visits to the police stations. So they kicked me out and sent me to Aviva.
In the beginning of Aviva it was very hard because I had two choices, either continue hurting my mom with bad choices or choose to run my program. I eventually decided to run my program and Aviva was more than happy to help me.
I am thankful for every bad choice I ever made and every person that was put in my path to give me a hard time. I would have never stopped without them. I made many mistakes but those same mistakes have made me the person I am today.
It’s not perfect I still struggle but my mind is much stronger than before. Now that I have overcome many obstacles I want to join the United States Air Force.
People don’t believe I can make it because I’m a young woman and they’re too busy focusing on my past. I want to live my life only to be ready for what the future has to offer me. Now that I am graduating it’s time to prove everyone including myself that I can do something in life.
It’s my time to truly show myself that I have left my past behind and I won’t let it get in my way anymore. It’s time to let my dreams set sail.
Learn more about Aviva’s 2015 Graduation Ceremony: Aviva High School Graduates Stand Proud and Strong
Read more speeches from graduates of Aviva High School’s Class of 2015:
- In her own words: Aviva High School graduate Andrea
- In her own words: Aviva High School graduate Davanna
- In her own words: Aviva High School graduate Pamela