2023 Commencement remarks from Commencement Speaker and graduating Graphic Design student Jaelyn Hampton

Jaelyn Hampton speaks at Commencement.

By Jaelyn Hampton

Hello everyone. My name is Jaelyn Hampton. Just like the rest of you I’m done with my time here at KCC. Over the course of three years I have completed an associate degree in Graphic Design, competed in two seasons of volleyball and played one year of basketball after not having played for two years since I graduated high school.

As you’re all sitting there, I bet you’re wondering: “Why her?”

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been asking myself the same thing. Upon reflection over the past few years I realized I’ve asked myself that same question countless times: “Why me?”

First when my senior year got cut short because of COVID. Then again when my freshman year of volleyball got postponed and postponed again and finally canceled. I asked “Why me?” when restrictions were finally lifted the following year and we were allowed back on the court, and I got hurt the week before our first game.

I realized I never ask myself that when things go my way. I didn’t ask “Why me?” when I signed to play volleyball here at KCC. Or when I was awarded the Gold Key Scholarship my freshman year. I didn’t ask “Why me?” when I was able to make it back to the court following that early season injury. I didn’t ask “Why me?” when I became a starter in basketball or when I signed to continue playing volleyball at Olivet next year.

I already knew why: Because I worked for it.

Every day I worked for it. I knew the countless hours I spent studying and perfecting assignments for picky teachers. Or the countless hours in the gym and weight room pushing myself to get better every day. I never seem to question when things are going my way because I know how much work I’ve put in behind the scenes to get there.

People tend to ask themselves “Why me?” when things they can’t control go wrong. Myself included. Everyone out there has gone through hard and difficult times throughout their lives. However, that is easy to forget: that everyone struggles.

People only show the world their successes and hide their failures. It becomes easy to think that you’re alone in your struggles and to compare your situation to someone else’s. It’s hard to admit or to talk about your struggles. But I think it’s important that we embrace our struggles, as well as our successes. I can acknowledge the hard times for making me stronger and the good times for making it all worth it.

So instead of focusing on things that could go wrong, focus on what you can control. You can always control how you respond to difficult situations and how much work you put in to regain that control. The hard work required to succeed isn’t always fun or easy. But it’s what is at the end of the road that is so fulfilling.

I’m so grateful for the past three years and all of its ups and downs. KCC has allowed me to meet people that have contributed to my success tremendously. One being my Graphic Design professor Penny Rose. She was always so kind and helpful. And she taught me how to deal with people and how to succeed in the professional world.

Another being my basketball coach, Sal Konkle. She brought out the best in me and always pushed me to be better. She showed us that with hard work, moral victories can always be found, even in losses. I wouldn’t have had such a successful time here at KCC without them.

I’d also like to thank my family for everything they’ve done for me throughout my life. To my older brother for always being someone to look up to and for always giving me great advice. When I was deciding whether or not to do this, he reminded me that if I screw up too badly I will not see most of you ever again.

To my parents for all of their sacrifices that allowed us to succeed in school and in sports. To my aunt and uncle for letting me crash at their place for free for the past few years. And a special thanks to my baby sister Momo for being my best friend and for inspiring me to be my best every day. She’s her class valedictorian and is going to give a speech at her own graduation in June, so I couldn’t turn down this opportunity to speak here today. I couldn’t let her one up me like that. Until then I’ll be mom’s favorite child.

Thanks to all of you for listening to some of my story. I hope that the next time you ask yourself “Why me?” you think of everything you’ve worked for and accomplished so far, and know that with that same hard work you can do anything you set your mind to.

KCC’s 2023 Commencement ceremony was held May 11 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, celebrating the accomplishments of 1,046 graduation candidates from four semesters at KCC, including Summer 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023 and Summer 2023. The Class of 2023 is the 65th graduating class at KCC, which was founded in 1956.