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I write this message with immense pride as the first in my family to graduate from college, earn a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, and embark on a doctorate program. 

School has never been easy for me, but through hard work, determination and the unwavering support of my parents, family and many mentors, I have reached milestones I once only dreamed of—such as serving in public office for nearly two decades, holding positions including San Jose/Evergreen Valley College Community College Trustee, Gilroy Unified School District Trustee and Gilroy City Councilmember. 

As I reflect on my journey, I wish to share the wisdom I desperately wish I could give my past self, hoping it will help you feel confident about your futures.

To all graduates, as you stand on the threshold of a new chapter in your lives, I offer you these words of advice: Embrace every challenge as an opportunity for growth. Believe in your abilities, even when others doubt you. And never underestimate the power of perseverance.

Your education and vocational training are the foundations upon which you will build the rest of your lives. They are not merely stepping stones but the bedrock of your future achievements. 

Here in our beautiful town of Gilroy, we are excited and eager to see what each of you will bring to the world. Your potential to shape our community and beyond is boundless.

As you embark on this new chapter, remember that success is not merely about individual achievement but also about lifting others as you climb. Support your peers, lift each other up, and together, you can achieve greatness beyond measure.

For those of you aspiring to become teachers, counselors, therapists, or working toward a Doctorate in Education (EdD) in Social Justice Leadership, I encourage you to reach out. At Santa Clara University, we offer many incredible pathways to support your goals. We are here to guide you, share our experiences, and help you navigate the exciting journey ahead.

Remember, the road to success is often challenging, but with perseverance and support, you can achieve greatness. 

Congratulations on your graduation, and welcome to the future.

Fred M. Tovar, M.Ed.

Gilroy City Council member

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