The Wisdom of Hard-Earned Success

The Wisdom of Hard-Earned Success

Sep 20, 2022

Karla Cuca is the first graduate of Nehemiah Gateway University from Guatemala. She delivered the below remarks at the annual Rector's Dinner a week before graduation, sharing a dimension of her educational journey that many of us had not been aware of...

...I always joke about being like a granny in college. I’m around 8-10 years older than most of you. But on special occasions like this one, I’m glad age also brings advantages like learning from mistakes. So today, I will share a piece of hard-earned wisdom with you.

I first entered university 14 years ago. I was known for being smart, I never had a hard time at school, and as expected, among hundreds of applicants, I was one of the few who managed to get in. However, it wasn't long before I realized that being smart is not synonymous with success.

It was not that I didn’t like the career I chose. It was worse; I did not have the will to put in all the effort needed to succeed. So, when things got complicated, I quit. For the very first time, I failed.

I never stopped studying. I enrolled in other courses in different faculties, and I almost made it to the end. Still, every time things got complicated, again and again, I decided to quit.

I would tell myself that I had other things to do, work, family, and all kinds of different commitments. But what I never admitted was that I feared starting over, making some progress, and giving up as usual.

I didn't want to push myself and commit to putting all my effort into making it to the end. And for every time I quit, the burden of remorse got heavier.

When the opportunity to come to Albania presented itself, I had to be honest with myself and recognize that the problem was not my capacity but my perseverance, my willingness to push myself even when things got complicated.

I had to leave my country, my family, and my friends and quit my job. It was hard, but after these three challenging years, I’m sure I won’t look back and say if only… if only I put more effort, if only I took more time to read, if only I tried a little bit harder, if only…

It was one class the one which prevented me to continue medicine school and the conservatory. One internship was the reason why I didn’t make it in humanities. One thesis the reason why I didn’t graduate from art school.

Now, for the first time in many years, I look back, not feeling any regret or remorse, because I know I gave my all to make this happen.

You are just one year from being on this side of the end. It might be the most difficult year, but I assure you that if you put your heart into making this possible, you will.

Please, don't wait 14 years to look back and say, if only I had tried harder.

Believe in yourselves, and don't doubt your abilities; if you made it this far, you already have all you need to make it through. And when necessary, ask for help. That was my second biggest mistake; I was smart but not smart enough to ask for help.

Trust your teachers and classmates. Nehemiah is a great place where to find encouragement, inspiration, and support. Most of the time, the only thing you need is someone to tell you, that you can, and you will do it.

I assure you that if you put your body, heart, and soul into this, next year, you will be the one who will have the privilege of sharing a few words with future graduates.