Emotional speaker shares life transformation

Student speaker Christine Skowronek tears up during an emotional part of her address to the graduating class during the Fall Commencement afternoon session on Thursday.

Photos by Ralph Freso

Seven years ago, Christine Skowronek nearly died in childbirth. Her brain starved of oxygen, she suffered temporary cognitive damage.

“What was once easy, to go from one to place to another in my mind, now occupied my full attention,” she said.

She would find herself in a room and forget why she was there.

“It took me years to recover, physically and cognitively,” said Skowronek, Commencement speaker at the Thursday afternoon ceremony at Grand Canyon University and recipient of a master’s degree in psychology.

When she started her master’s degree at GCU, she lacked confidence because of her experiences. Here was a woman who earlier in life had traveled to 27 countries and co-founded her own travel company in Latin America.

Yet she was a sleep-deprived, working single mother caring for a small child, had lingering stress and anxiety from her near-death experience and was full of emotional turmoil.

“I just wanted to find relief,” she said, her voice breaking.

She tried therapy, stress eating, shopping and other quick fixes.

“Then I did something really crazy. I started going to church,” she said.

Skowronek changed her habits and has changed her life.

She started a slow and steady effort with a life coach, joined social networks, educated herself in workshops and in her GCU studies and found a spiritual connection with God.

“Albert Einstein once famously said, ‘You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.’”

She stopped drinking and began eating right, exercising and making a mental, physical and spiritual transformation through her faith and her education. Small, cumulative changes led to great things.

“Each DQ (discussion question), each assignment was one step closer to graduation,” she said. “Every single person in the graduating class today has demonstrated sustained effort. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be sitting where you are.

“Not one of you sought or found the easy way to your degree. Like each of you, I very easily could have gone down a different, possibly destructive path from the one that I did. I’m extremely grateful to God that He has led me here instead.”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

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Bible Verse

"(Jesus) was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)

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