Paula’s Victory

Valedictorian Speech

Paula Hodgins
Poster Child and Valedictorian for CDI College
during her speech at Delta Edmonton.
October 25, 2013

To be a college Valedictorian is an honour and great accomplishment for anyone, but for Paula, it is a fairy-tale ending to a difficult school-age life.

Paula has found her niche. Her professionalism has impressed people up to the Canadian federal court. May she continue to be an inspiration to others who are on life’s uncertain road.

In April 2011, at age 20, Paula nearly lost her life to the onset of Type 1 Diabetes.

In December 2011 and January 2012, she nearly lost her post-secondary program (and her future) to what I collectively refer to as preventable matters, ineptitude of others, and lack of forthrightness on the part of a particular financial institution.

Prior to post-secondary school, Paula struggled with severe test anxiety that often gave her scores of 20% lower than her abilities warranted.

Her life was far from rosy on both the emotional and physical fronts. She had to grow up early. She had to put in 18 to 20-hour days for years, combining school and work. Once diabetes set in, her basic living expenses increased. She faced health-related and other challenges. In spite of this, she didn’t miss a single day of classes in the Professional Legal Studies program at CDI College.

Paula’s tenacity, determination, courage, willpower, and belief in herself paid off. She learned to overcome the negative effects of her diabetes, her fears, her test anxiety, and much more, arming herself with skills and a level of maturity beyond her years, indisputable assets for her upcoming career as well as for life. However, had it not been for some key people in Paula’s program, her merit may have gone unrecognized, as happens to many worthy people in our society. Timing is everything, and windows of opportunity are narrow. Nonetheless, one must be meticulously prepared for them, as Paula had been.

I’m not just a proud mom showing off her successful daughter with endless bad-quality smartphone pictures. Day after day, I continue to be floored by her triumph against all odds in the face of such long-term adversity. I am also honoured to have been a part of her journey, and thankful that my limited resources were enough to make a difference.

The events of the last three years have been disproportionately difficult to the point that they would baffle statisticians–an endless line of hardships and disappointments. Paula’s future had hung by a thread. But it did not snap. And today she crosses the line into a new frontier.


Special thanks to Kevin Rohoman, Jennifer Dupuis, and CDI College in Edmonton, AB, who gave the gift of a future to a young life.

About Eva Blaskovic

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