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Information Technology Grad: ‘My Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis Didn’t Hold Me Back’

College of Business and Economics Student Commencement Speech
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Rita Boyle, M.S. information technology

Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today. I’m honored to be standing here sharing this day with all of you. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would be standing here today, I wouldn’t have believed them. I just didn’t think I was enough to make it through school. I wasn’t young enough, smart enough. But then about seven years ago I woke up on a Saturday morning and couldn’t see out of one eye. I went to the hospital and after a lot of awful tests, they gave me the news. I had multiple sclerosis. I was devastated, I thought my life was over. Then my nurse talked to me after my family left that day. She revealed to me that she also had MS and she was a mom to four boys and still worked full time. She told me to take ahold of my life and be in charge of it.

My outlook changed after that experience. I had been taking one class a semester thinking maybe I would get a certificate. So I changed my attitude and took charge, I decided to start taking more classes and really get that certificate. That was a huge accomplishment in my book. And then the strangest thing happened, I was succeeding! My age wasn’t holding me back, and neither was my diagnosis of MS. School is hard, but here we are. We did it! That means we can do harder things. We can work hard and succeed in our careers, in our relationships, and in life. If I can give one piece of advice, it would be to never doubt yourself. Look at what you’ve already accomplished. Don’t be afraid to fail. Try it, even if you think you can’t because failure is often how we learn to succeed. I’m so grateful for my time here. I’m grateful for the education I received and the friends I’ve made. Don’t let anybody hold you back. This is your time to show everyone just how special and amazing you are.