2024 Commencement remarks from Commencement Speaker and graduating Welding student Angel Calleja-Delgado

Commencement speaker Angel speaks to graduates from the stage at Commencement.

By Angel Calleja-Delgado

Welcome everyone, friends and families alike. My name is Angel Calleja-Delgado, and I am one of many 2024 graduates of Kellogg Community College. I’m a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and also am one of many Board of Trustees Scholars. After tonight, I will be leaving with my Associate in Industrial Welding. Tonight is a special night for everyone in this arena; our audience members, myself and for us Bruin graduates of Kellogg Community College.

Tonight is the night where we see the results of our struggles and successes towards our path of education. This is what we’ll carry with us after tonight.

Everyone seated in this arena should be proud of themselves. Look around, as we have our dear family, friends and partners proud of us. Here in this arena also to celebrate our great accomplishment are members of the community and our beloved staff, faculty and the Board members who have provided us with access to high quality education. To them, we say thank you for nourishing us with education. This will never be forgotten.

My two years here at Kellogg Community College have been amazing and have helped me grow as a person through lessons I never thought of happening. My first lesson: Do not be afraid to ask for help. Learning that receiving help is a major step in education took time. I used to believe asking for help was a form of pity, yet failed to realize that it never was. I am proud of myself for having every ounce of support to put me where I stand now, all through asking for help. It is as simple as this: I could not have done this all on my own.

The next lesson I learned is to constantly make new friends. We all are trying to make it through our journey of life, and good company helps make this enjoyable. Learning that friends are supporters through thick and thin helped me realize I didn’t need to struggle alone. I happened to make new friends when I first started here at KCC, and to see some of you all here tonight makes me feel better. I see and hear how each one of them is a step closer to their goal and that reminds me to keep going, for they are proud of me as well.

And the last lesson: Be your authentic self. I learned that there are people out in the world that appreciate how I am as an individual; they see the positive, enjoyable and quality traits within me. I also reciprocate this, as I appreciate individuals for how they are. To think that we still have individuals to meet beyond tonight is something I am anticipating. And to think all this happened in my two years here at Kellogg Community College. I sometimes wonder what would have been if I never took my step into further education.

Yet here I am, giving a speech in an arena of a graduation ceremony. For this, I give a special thank you to the one and only (Student Life Director) Kristin McDermott for helping start my path of further education and offering me an amazing opportunity to be here to help celebrate an outstanding accomplishment for everyone in this arena. Not only this, but for helping me find what I want to do for myself.

I would also like to give thanks to my professors who have helped and supported me through all this, for pushing me to try and strive harder. I would also like to thank (Welding instructors) Brandon McAllister and Steve Casselman of the RMTC, for motivating me and for an unforgettable time. They have set nothing but high standards for me, knowing that I could deliver day after day. I am grateful for having you all as my instructors for these past two years. I will never forget all of the faculty who have supported me through KCC. And here I am being the first college graduate of my family. To say this will be something I will never forget will be one of the greatest understatements in my lifetime.

And, of course, I would love to thank my mom and dad for making it here to the land of opportunity, in giving my siblings and I the opportunity of further education. Knowing that you’ve gone through nothing but struggle in two countries only motivated me to wake up and strive day after day. To my biggest supporter, Angelica, thank you for being the best big sister; even when it’s rough for me, you are always there. And to my little brother Ricky, who’s soon to graduate high school and pursue his further education, just know that I am proud of you, you and your hunger for education. Like I said, the family name will now be on many college diplomas.

Here’s a message to my parents:

Y a mi Mama y Papa, agradezco sus esfuerzos y lucha para regalarnos nuestras vidas en este país donde hay oportunidades. Espero que estén orgulloso de mí y en mi lucha de ser algo. “Échale ganas” todos me dijeron desde niño pequeño y aquí están viendo los resultados. Seguiré echando las ganas en todo lo que haré en mi vida. Gracias Mama y Papa. Y felicidades a los Hispanos aquí mismo que gradúen esta noche.

I hope everyone in this arena continues to strive for ambition, for greatness. Some of us may end our road of education here and that’s okay. Some of us may continue our schooling further and that’s great. But one thing is for sure: We will continue forward like the Bruins we are.

As I near end of this speech, I’d like to refer to a metaphor that I had thought of for a good while. It goes something like this:

Everyone is a seed of a tree, destined to grow. In order to do this, we must fall down into the unknown, go through rainy days, scorching days, and lonely nights. Eventually, after some time, we start to set our roots. Slowly, we grow strong. Eventually we’ll become the strong, tall tree like the one before us. Then there we’ll realize that it was worth it all.

Everyone in this arena knows where they are in this metaphor. Always continue to grow. Grow with strength from struggle. And on this night, we celebrate a great accomplishment together.

Congratulations to the 2024 graduates of Kellogg Community College!

KCC’s 2024 Commencement ceremony was held May 9 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, celebrating the accomplishments of 1,164 graduation candidates from four semesters at KCC, including Summer 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024. The Class of 2023 is the 66th graduating class at KCC, which was founded in 1956.

An excerpt of this speech will appear in the June 2024 edition of BruIN magazine. To read the issue online when published, please visit kellogg.edu/bruinmagazine.