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Josiah Borden, GRN’21

“I was five years old in a public restroom when I made my decision to become a nurse. My mother was helping me get dressed for school, as she had countless mornings before, but this morning, for a reason I’ll never know, she took a very serious pause to tell me I could be anything I want someday.

She said, “You would make a great nurse, a great doctor, anything you want to be.”

It’s an honor to write this message as I prepare to graduate with my doctorate in nursing. I wish I could say there’s something special about me, that I have some kind of esoteric gift that makes me deserving to be highlighted in a school filled with people who are highly respected and extremely successful.

But the truth is there isn’t. Don’t get me wrong I’m beyond proud of some of my accomplishments; being a first-generation college student, attending The University of Pennsylvania, and receiving some awards and scholarships along the way. But I also know that if it weren’t for people like my mother, my grandparents, my family members and my friends I would be in a very different place in life.

Growing up in low-income areas, living on government assistance, and being raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet for her children has its stigmas and its challenges, but I was surrounded by people who not only believed in me but also pushed me. There were no excuses allowed or sob stories accepted.

I have been surrounded by friends, family, educators, and coaches who constantly raised the bar and helped me reach it. If I’m going to be highlighted, I feel it is only right that I highlight them. Because the adage “it takes a village to raise a child” is true.

I would like to thank The University of Pennsylvania for becoming a part of my village. It, and many of the people within it, now join a special group of family, friends, and role models who have each raised me in their own distinct way. I doubt the little boy getting changed for school in that public restroom would have ever believed he’d be able to call UPenn his alma mater. But I know for certain he’d be honored.”

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