May 30, 2019

Kion La-Mar Mackell, M.Ed. ’19, shared his personal story and advice with Goucher’s Class of 2019

Kion La-Mar Mackell, M.Ed. ’19, encouraged graduates to demonstrate resilience when facing personal and professional obstacles during Goucher’s 128th Commencement ceremony.

  • Kion La-Mar Mackell, M.Ed. ’19, encouraged graduates to demonstrate resilience

Kion La-Mar Mackell, M.Ed. ’19, spoke at Goucher’s Commencement in 2019 as the representative for the Welch Center for Graduate & Professional Studies. His speech is printed below in full.

"First let me begin by saying thank you to my professors and to the entire faculty of the Welch Center for providing me with the humbling opportunity to address my peers and all who are in attendance today. Today I would like to talk to my fellow graduates about resiliency and overcoming obstacles as we move forward in our lives and professional careers after the conclusion of our time at Goucher.  According to Google, resiliency is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, and having toughness.  To me, the term “toughness” is not just about the amount of physical strength that you possess, it also includes mental strength, which we all have had the opportunity to display to get to this point today. Just this morning, most of you today have already demonstrated forms of resiliency and toughness on the way here today if you had to travel via 695. 

"It took me a long time to come to a decision on what I wanted to speak about today, and what  would be the best way for me to get that message across with the time I had been allotted. In the end, I decided to share a story. This story is about a young man who faced many obstacles, and had to find and demonstrate resiliency throughout life in his path to achieving professional and personal goals. Even from a young age he recognized that his path to success might look different then those in his peer group. While in elementary school, he experienced living in poverty, the divorce of his parents, the impacts of addiction on his family dynamics and lived experiences. He sometimes came home to a house with no electricity, an eviction notice, and moving at least seven times before the end of his 5th grade year. All the while, he still had almost perfect attendance and straight A's on report cards more times then not. Let's fast forward this story to where this young man is a high school freshman with plans of being valedictorian - but had everything on his mind besides books. His priorities were not in order, he did not take the needed steps to reach his lofty, but attainable goal, and therefore failed the 9th grade.

"Some may believe that there is no success in failure, but for this young man, this low moment provided an opportunity to demonstrate the resiliency he already developed within himself. The very next year he re-gained his focus, got his priorities in order, took extra classes, and was placed back in his proper grade level. He graduated on time, finishing somewhere in the 200's in a class of 330, and while he was not his class valedictorian, he did move onto college with plans of being a sportscaster. He graduated from Morgan State University with a 3.3 GPA after averaging 30 work hours a week to pay his way through college. Somewhere along his college journey, the sportscaster goal changed, and that degree in journalism turned into a degree in Physical Education. This man is now a proud thirteen-year veteran educator in the state of Maryland, looking to move on to the next chapter of his life and career as a school administrator; another plan that may be filled with road blocks and alternate paths, but he will be ready.

"That young man, who never had plans of going to graduate school, is now the proud married, father of three you see standing before you today, and I can proudly say my resiliency in life has led me to a graduate degree from this fine institution.

"To my fellow graduates and all in attendance today, life will throw adversity at you and attempt to mess up the best laid plans, however it's how you respond to that adversity that defines you, not the adversity itself. Hall of Fame Boxer Mike Tyson once said, 'Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.'  What I love so much about this quote is that it really has meaning in all walks of life, both personally and professionally. That punch can come from a health scare, losing your job, or even something as simple as a traffic jam or forgetting your wallet at home when you're already running late. I say to you, we all have, and will continue to, experience punches along the way. Continue to take those figurative punches that life throws at your plans, make the needed adjustments to see those plans to fruition, and continue to demonstrate the resiliency that has gotten you all to this point today.

"Again, thank you for your time and go forward happily, knowing that none of us will ever have to do another follow up. God Bless!"