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Ronda Fitch

Frankly Speaking
Difficult Journey Motivated STLCC-Florissant Valley Commencement Speaker

Ronda Fitch

Commencement addresses have become a family affair for Ronda Fitch. Fitch represented the Florissant Valley student body as a speaker at St. Louis Community College's 2007 commencement exercises at Scottrade Center. Fitch's son Reybren, an eighth grader at Whitfield School, delivered the commencement address at City Academy.

"Reybren spoke recently at an art auction that raised more than $20,000, mainly because of what he told the audience," said Fitch, 36. "Then, administrators at City Academy wanted him to deliver their commencement address. He is a gifted child and gets his gift of gab from his mom."

Fitch only recently has become comfortable speaking to large groups.

"I was shy growing up," she said. "But I understand now that speaking is my calling and I must use that gift to help others."

A member of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society chapter at STLCC-Florissant Valley, Fitch graduated with honors and earned an associate's degree in general transfer studies. She is the first in her family to graduate from college.

The journey to this stage of her life has been anything but easy. Fitch, who works in the medical field, saw her job outsourced several times. The single mother knew that education was the key to providing for herself and her son, so she opted to go to college, cut her hours at work and live on a tight budget.

"There were times when I wanted to give up," she said. "Then I would look at Reybren and remember why I was doing this. He has been my priority, and I wanted to lead by example. I kept reiterating to myself that you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. I knew I could do this. I am not a quitter."

After seven years, Fitch's "can-do" attitude has paid off. She will attend Washington University on a full scholarship this fall to study communications and speech. Her goal is to be a motivational speaker. She had a captive audience during the STLCC commencement.

"We have all traveled different paths, some easier than others, that have led to this same momentous occasion," she told her fellow graduates. "Whatever path you decide to take from here, whether it is continuing your education at a four-year institution, starting a new career, or working your way up at your current job, remember these words - I Did It!

"All things are possible," she added. "Whiners never win, and winners never whine. It doesn't matter who you are. As long as you stay on the road, the blessing is at the end."