Originally Published: June 2, 2017 5:55 a.m.
Deputy Donny Oen, a graduate of Mayer High School 23 years ago, gave the commencement address at the school’s graduation ceremony May 23.
Oen, a school resource officer, was chosen by Principal Jeffrey Duncan to highlight the positive impact Oen has had on the students.
“Some of you are probably asking yourself why a police officer is speaking to this graduating class tonight,” Oen said. “I have been with this class since their freshman year and have watched them grow over the past four years.”
He explained his path, from attending Yavapai College for two years, to being hired as a YCSO detention officer in 1996, to testing for a job as a deputy a year later and being hired.
Oen, who became a school resource officer so he could act as a mentor and good example to students, said he’s happy with how his life has progressed.
“I don’t regret a bit of what I’ve done, and would do it all over again,” he told the graduates. “I haven’t failed, I’ve adapted, and found what makes me happy and fulfills me. So will you. Life doesn’t usually follow the plans you lay out for yourself.
“You will all experience the highs and lows, the difficult and the easy, and unfortunately, there may be times with too many difficulties and just not enough smooth sailing. Your true success will be defined by how you handle these times.”
Oen told the story of a doctor who spoke at his graduation. The doctor has two prosthetic arms and explained he had been electrocuted while working on top of a feed barn, resulting in the amputation of both hands and forearms.
In spite of his injuries, the doctor went on to write four books by recording his ideas for others to type.
Oen said the doctor’s perseverance had a big impact on him since he was not a top student in English and writing at the time.
“You’re now armed with one of the most important tools needed to forge your path ahead. It’s not the diploma itself that counts – it’s about what you’ve learned along the way and what you do with the education you’ve received in your journey to graduation today. Your future is in your hands – no one else’s,” Oen said.