Class president: Weakness will reveal strength

Class president Stephen Self behind podium at POST
Stephen Self, Correction Academy 43's president

In his address to his classmates at their graduation ceremony on April 4, 2014, the president of Correction Academy 43, Stephen Self told his classmates times of weakness will reveal their strength. Here is a transcript of his remarks.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and fellow officers. Welcome to the graduation of Corrections Academy Class #43. We come to the end of our six-week journey today and begin our future as corrections officers in the great State of Idaho.

How the time has flown by. It seems just like yesterday we were all gathering in a classroom here at POST, meeting each other for the first time. All of us from different backgrounds. Some had prior corrections experience. Some had prior law enforcement experience. Others had military backgrounds and some came without any experience at all.

There are some of us looking to make this a career while others are using this path as a stepping stone into other law enforcement careers. In the end, we came together as one big team.

We fought through PowerPoint after PowerPoint after PowerPoint and still more PowerPoint.  We agonized over three exams and several graded scenarios. We survived arrest technique training and even made it through the burning of OC day. We all got a little bit stronger through some grueling days of PT, to include the infamous "Pick your Poison,” where we learned making a single free throw was harder than it looked. We rose up to the challenges and overcame them.

Our class motto is "Know your weakness. Show your strength."  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said "Our strength grows out of our weakness." We must remember that if we only acknowledge our strengths, we miss out on opportunities to multiply them. We need to be able to identify our weaknesses and then transform them into strengths. Look for ways to always improve yourself and challenge yourself to be better.

Albert Einstein said "Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character." Attitude is a way of thinking that is reflected in a person's behavior. Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.  If we allow our way of thinking to deviate and become weak, so will our behavior and eventually the good moral qualities we all possess will become weak and vulnerable to attack.

There is an old quote that says: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The OC and PT didn't kill us. We are all still here today. But because of both, we are stronger. We are stronger physically and mentally.

Someone that knew a lot about suffering and trials gave us counsel when she said “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved." Those words of advice come from Helen Keller.

I spoke of character while talking about weakness. It has not been easy for us to develop our characters. It will not be easy to maintain them either. We will be attacked often, without warning and from areas we least expect it. Those that attack us will try to destroy our moral qualities. If we rise up and endure the trials, our character will be strengthened and we will be successful.

To tie all this together, remember this:  Sometimes we will not know our own strength until we come face to face with our greatest weakness. Weeks at the academy have shown us areas to improve, whether it be prone cuffing, writing reports, shooting a shotgun or communicating. We know what we need to improve on. But there will come a day and time in our career where we will come face to face with that great weakness. We may or may not know what it is right now. But when that time comes, if we are mentally and morally prepared, then we will see what our greatest strength is.

I want to thank all of those in attendance. We appreciate your support.
To the instructors, thank you.  Words cannot describe enough the gatitude we have for you. Without you we would not be where we are today.  On behalf of my classmates, please accept our thanks many times over.

In closing, I want to thank all of my classmates. It has been an honor learning and training with you. I know we will all be good officers. Let's do better than that. Let's be great!

We will never forget the experiences we have had here. The nights studying, the long days of PowerPoint, mandatory PT and the burning sensation in our eyes.

We are a team and a family. We always will be.We will have each others back every day in the institutions we work in.

Rise up and show your strength!

Thank you.

Story published: 04/24/2014
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