How an education made a difference and changed this graduate’s life and perspective on herself and others!

On November 22, 2014, Beckfield College held its Fall Commencement Ceremony.  For the first time, we had Graduate Speakers address the audience, and it was a big one – nearly 1400 people in the room!

Katrina Kanigoski-Judd was the first of two graduate speakers.  Kat earned her Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Addictions Counseling from the Cincinnati Campus.  Married with three children, Kat began her studies at Beckfield College in January 2011 as a part-time night student.  Upon graduating in September 2014, she was able to attain her credentials as a Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA) from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board.  She is now working as a chemical dependency counselor at Beckett Springs in West Chester, Ohio.

She relayed her story, and one many of us can relate to easily.  It was a story of self-doubt, lack of confidence, not standing up for yourself, and the constant demons we all fight inside of us.  But, through an education and her grit and determination, she was able to change her thoughts and focus points.  The insight she gave us all into her maturity as a self-confident individual was awe inspiring.  She delivered her words with such intensity and passion.  Everyone in the room was holding on to her every word.

I hope you will be inspired but what she had to say.  I know I was.




Diane Wolfer, President


Graduate Address, written by Katrina Kanigoski-Judd and delivered by her on November 22, 2014

“I would like to thank you for choosing me to represent the Beckfield Tri County Campus, I am truly honored.

I want to begin with a profound quote by Martin Luther King that challenges us by asking a rhetorical question “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”  My idea of service work for others has changed.  I once believed only the rich, intelligent and famous did service work.  Through the  pursuit of a higher education I learned one of life’s important lessons…. it is not just for  the rich, intelligent and famous but everyday people which pass through our lives who are of greater service for change within us.  I would like to invite you to take a walk.  I would like to take you on a walk through the transformation of one life which was forever changed by the service of others.

I will first begin with an Autobiography in Five Short Chapters written by Portia Nelson

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

I want to take you where it all began.

I was lying on the couch watching T.V unemployed again. I saw the Beckfield commercial.  I called for several weeks and would hang up before anyone would answer.   Did you know Beckfield Tri County has caller id?  I made several appointments and would cancel them last minute. I would talk myself out of going….. Using the what if thoughts…what if I am not smart enough?…. What if I am not good enough…..What if I have no gifts or talents?…What if I can’t find a career?  What if I cannot afford school?… What if I fail?

Chapter one – the deep hole in the sidewalk where I fall in, I am lost … I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. This is the belief deep inside of me which tells me I will fail before I even try.

But I made it!   I got off the elevator on to the second floor.  I had no idea what career to choose. It was a process of elimination….here we are admission rep reading off the careers I can choose from How about medical?    No blood, bodily fluids and too many things to remember plus I would never make it wearing the whites through clinical.  Business? Working in an office sounds okay?   IT?  Technical stuff makes me anger… Paralegal?  Maybe?  I watch law and crime shows. Black suits, lawyers and court room drama…..well I was corrected hours of reading, writing and researching.  Criminal Justice?   An addiction counselor? Two for one….. That’s it!  That’s me I have overcome addiction.  I know a lot about this subject.    I chose my career.  I want to be an addiction counselor. I want to help people.  I am excited … I feel happy but then quickly comes the thoughts   Can I do this? Can I really be this?  I feel this is right but how will I do it? I have never finished anything I have started.

Chapter two there is a deep hole I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place, but, it isn’t my fault.   This is an inner war between the strong desire to be successful vs thoughts and visions of failure.

But I made it to my first day of class it was English.    We were asked to write a couple of sentences about ourselves.  I was overwhelmed with fear because I had been out of school for over twenty five years and I had barely graduated from high school.  I was embarrassed and ashamed. I could not write.  I stared at the paper and every few minutes I would check the time.  Then first break came, my paper was still blank. As I was walking out of the class room I was battling with the thought I should leave I can’t do this!    Break was over I came into the class room fighting back tears.  My instructor came next to me and quietly whispered, “Kat just do it… write as if you were speaking…. no thoughts of what to write…Just do it.”  She lifted my hand up and placed on the paper.” And I did it!  I began to write.  I filled the whole page.   When I looked up I was the last one in the class room.   I handed my paper to my instructor she looked up at me and said while smiling “Kat this is the most perfect run-on sentence I have ever read.”

Chapter Three there is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit.  My eyes are open I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I made it through comp I and II next was speech.   After three weeks of speech class my instructor asked me to stay after class.  I was sick with fear. What did I do?    She began with “Ms. Kat it is clear to me that you do not see the same person in you that I do. I replied “I am sorry.”  M.s Kat please stop apologizing after every sentence and stop saying “I Can’t” You are special Kat you have an amazing natural gift to speak you have compassion, understanding and regard for humanity. (I looked behind me)  My instructor ended the conversation with a question    Kat whoever kept you from believing you?  I was unable to answer. I sat quietly…thinking… searching for an answer but I replied “I am sorry I can’t find an answer.”   After almost three years I have the answer.  No one kept me from believing in me I did it!    I inadvertently thought my way out of believing in me!  I did it!
Chapter Four I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Finally, Time to find an externship.  What Resume? I have never had a resume. Thank you career services!  After a yearlong search I finally found an externship.    At the end of my externship I was hired full time at Beckett Springs Hospital as a Chemical Dependency Counselor.  I also hold a credential CDCA from The Ohio Chemical Dependency Professional Board.   My Job is to motivate and inspire people with chemical dependency to change.

Chapter Five I walk down another street

If I could add another chapter to Portia Nelsons piece… I would add……Chapter Six I walk down another street, there is a deep hole in the side walk, I look in…. I see a face they are lost they are helpless; it is not their fault….. I reach out my hand

I stand before you living proof people make a difference in the lives of others.  Their job is to educate me, their service work is inspiring me!!!

How can I end without words from the ultimate model of serving others?

“Prayer in action is love and love in action is service.  Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment.  The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving….. “Mother Teresa


Posted on: December 02, 2014