Today is a very special day and marks an important day in history not only for myself but also for my family. I feel truly honored to be here. Eleven years ago, I made the decision to drop out of high school and pursue my love for business. Getting this award and an honorary doctoral degree is something that I probably only envisioned happening in my dreams; never did I think that it would become reality. The road of sacrifice, struggle and passion brought me here today. I guess this is another example that dreams do come true.
So, thank you, Pace University, for giving me the chance to be a part of the classroom. I was never part of an actual university, so thank you for allowing me to share my journey and life lessons as part of your curriculum. It’s the type of classroom experience I will never forget.
I’d like to also thank a few individuals that have been pillars to my success. Thank You Dad for believing in me and giving me the chance to realize my dreams. I don’t know any father that would let their 16-year old son drop out of high school for a crazy Internet idea. And, Mom, I know you weren’t ultimately happy with that decision, but thank you for not holding me back. My journey, I guess is an example, that sometimes the unorthodox ways can still lead you to success. You just need to believe. And, I’m glad you both believed in me.
Besides my siblings, the only other person I’d like to thank is someone that meant the world to me. 85 years ago, an angel was born and became my grandmother. I lost her 4 weeks ago. But, I can’t thank her enough for her unconditional love. I am simply who I am today because of her. Her life journey revolved around sacrifice and struggle but she harnessed it with love. She taught me that sacrifice instills discipline, struggle reminds you of the journey, but the choice to love teaches you to forgive.
Even though you are not here, I know you’ll always be close to me. And, I hope you are proud today of the person you created. This was your creation.