Joseph Cristofaro, KU Lakeland Criminal Justice Graduate – Valedictorian

Graduation Speech

First, I want to give thanks;

I want to thank my parents for everything they did for me and my 4 brothers. My parents weren’t wealthy, my father worked double shifts and days off to feed us and provide us with a home and clothes. My mother stayed home, took care of us, and made us go to school. They couldn’t give us everything we wanted. What they gave us though was priceless, a good example to emulate.

I want to thank my wife and family for being there and supporting me when I needed it.

I want to thank the military for giving me discipline, training, and opportunity. They paid for my education.

I want to thank my supervisors at Florida Fish and Wildlife for their support when I needed to adjust my schedule to attend classes.

Last, I want to thank the faculty of Keiser University, particularly the Criminal Justice instructors, Michael Teague, Tim Redmond, and Dr Cory as well as the Math instructor, Johnathan, for their patience and enthusiasm

I look out over this gathering of graduates and feel envious. Many here are in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. You have accomplished something at this early stage of your life that took me 42 years to do. I can’t imagine where my life would have led to if I had earned my degree decades ago. A degree, regardless of the major, creates opportunities and opens doors that would otherwise remain closed.

I would like to tell you some things I have experienced about life;

You do not deserve anything in life other than what you have earned. Anything else is a gift and should be appreciated.

In today’s world, a degree along with the right mindset and attitude will take you far. It is important to remember that while a degree may create opportunities and open doors, it is you, what you bring to the table, will cause you to get or lose the job. A good attitude, integrity, perseverance, and willing to learn something new every day will help you succeed in every task and keep the job.

If you have a goal, don’t let anyone stop you from achieving it. Not your family, friends, or even yourself.

You will encounter failure, embarrassment, and disappointments in your life. They are temporary. Don’t live in the past whether in glory or failure.  Both will diminish the present and hinder future accomplishments. Every day, you have a new chance to redefine yourself.

Be generous in life. Consider this quote from Larry Luccino “Life is not about warming yourself by the fire, life is about building the fire. And generosity is the match…If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap, but if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody”

You’ve heard it before, find something you enjoy that pays and it doesn’t seem like a job.

By the way, I drive a 4 wheel drive truck, ATV, ride a Jet Ski, and boat as part of my law enforcement duties.

Thank you

Joseph Cristofaro (3) Joseph Cristofaro (2) Joseph Cristofaro, valedictorian Joseph Cristofaro, Ledger