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Daughter delivers mom's graduation speech

Posted by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 1:23 AM
  • 14 Replies

Daughter delivers mom's graduation speech

Garrett Gentry died days before graduation

Updated: Friday, 03 Jun 2011, 10:39 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 03 Jun 2011, 10:39 PM CDT

BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WALA) - It was a happy celebration on Friday night at Faulkner Community College when dozens of students received their GEDs.

Sadly, one of the students was missing.

Gentry Garrett, 30, died in boating accident one week ago. She was supposed to give a speech to her fellow graduates.

Instead, her brave 13-year-old daughter took the stage for her.

Graduation typically marks a crowning moment in one's life. The ceremony is filled with pomp, pageantry and inspiring speeches. Speakers come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes one size too short for the podium.

Megan Garrett, 13, could barely peek over the podium as she began to speak: "Congratulations to the class of 2011! What we have accomplished is a great achievement."

On Friday night, inspiration came in the form of a speech, but not one written by this 13-year-old.

Megan's mom, Gentry Garrett, planned to give this speech herself but she died in a tragic boating accident six days before graduation.

"I'm still trying to keep up on my feet. And everybody's in my family trying to stay up on their feet," said Megan Garrett.

Gentry Garrett achieved much in life herself raising 4 children, but she was determined to complete her education

"I'm very proud of her. She had me when she was 17 and she's been having a lot of problems since,” said Megan.

Because Gentry completed her education, her daughter made the decision to bury her mother in her graduation gown.

“I just cant believe she's as strong as she's been," said Megan’s aunt, Angela Lawshe. "I cant. It's hard. She's having her moments. It's hard, but it just goes to show me she's got a lot of her momma in her."

Speakers can only hope that their words resonate and are remembered, but sometimes the words are not as inspiring as the person who gives the speech.

Gentry Garrett’s sister Angela has now decided that she is going to get her GED as well.

The family has set up an account at New Horizons Bank to help pay off the funeral expenses.

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 1:23 AM
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by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 1:57 AM

This story made me cry a little bit. Thank you so much for sharing it. And I am glad there is a fund set up to donate for the funeral. I wonder if they're taking donations for Megan to go to college. hmm Do you mind posting the actual link for me.

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:00 AM

OMG! I cried. =( What a touching and tragic story. I hope this gives her daughter the strength to finish her education, and move forward. I agree with ashka88, I wonder if they are taking donations for Megan to go to college, I would like to donate. If anyone knows. 

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:04 AM

Here's a link to the story!

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 2:17 AM

Thank you.

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 5:16 AM

 I actually have a couple of friends at that faulkner campus who were at the ceremony...not a dry eye in the entire place. 

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 5:21 AM

THe boating accident has a lot of people here riled up.  The driver of the other boat has been charged with manslaughter.  Also, they printe up a trascript of the speech if y'all are interested.

First of all, I would like to say congratulations to the class of 2011! What we have accomplished is a great achievement. I would like to share with you and your families today about my experience with the adult education program.

It all started when I was unemployed, and I saw a commercial about Faulkner's adult education program. I was only able to watch the commercial a few times before screaming at the TV, "OK, OK! I'm going to call!" The key word in the commercial was "free." Since I didn't have a job at the time, free was what I needed. So I called the number and spoke to Ms. Beverly Gulley. If she had not been so encouraging over the phone, I don't think I would have been able to go through with it. She assured me that there were no catches and that it was as free as free could get.

The next day, I made it to the class which is where I met Mr. Payne. I shook my head when I saw him and thought this must be the reason Ms. Beverly was so nice because I just signed up for boot camp! Mr. Payne reminded me of a drill sergeant. My dad use to tell me that a drill sergeant was what I needed, and Mr. Payne turned out to be just what I needed. He talked with a low voice and taught me a lot in just a week. At the end of the first week I said, "Wow! I think I got this."

On week two my mother started calling to make sure I was getting up and going to class! She would joke and ask if she needed to send my dad over to do that annoying tapping thing on the door for me to get up. But I was already up and dressed when she called because I wanted to go to class. I also had a new goal: to score high enough on the practice test to get $25 off the test fee. There was a nagging sign on the wall in the classroom which said if you completed at least 30 hours of class time and scored at least 500 on the practice tests, you could take the GED exam for $25, and I needed that.

Week two was also when I met Ms. Dana Matthews. She was as awesome as Mr. Payne. When I would go to their desk for help, both would tell me that I was over thinking it and to go with my first instinct. I told Ms. Matthews that it was because that was what I was use to doing. It took all of two days for them to break me of old habits and instill new ones. Mr. Payne and Ms. Matthews were so good at their jobs that I was able to achieve my goal in just 36 hours and get half of my fee waived!

At that point I realized that these people were not here to beat me up, knock me down or judge me on why I didn't graduate from high school. They didn't even ask why. Everyone has a different story. My past was forgotten, and new beginnings were about to happen. They encouraged me so much that I kept a smile on my face all the time.

I would like to thank each and everyone who supported me through my free ride of study at the adult education program and all of my family. It was truly a great experience. To my mom and dad, sorry you had to wait an extra ten years to see me walk across the stage. I love you guys from the bottom of my heart. To my fellow graduates, I hope your experience was a great as mine! And to anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to get their GED, dial 251-580-2105.

by on Jun. 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM

thanks Katz!!

by Ruby Member on Jun. 4, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Wow. That's sad.

Our governor just okayed alcohol at the parks and camping areas. Perhaps I'll forward him this, the dumbass. People are crazy enough with their boats.

by Member on Jun. 4, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Oh my goodness...

This story really hit home for me.

A week before semester ended, we were waiting for my Philosphy class to begin when someone from the bathroom across the hall shouted for help. There was a man unconscience in there, not breathing. My professor started CPR, along with several other students, while we waited for emergency personal. 

He didn't make it. He was 43, and had a massive heart attack. He was a week away from graduating. They awarded him his diploma, and his widow accepted his degree. It was very emotional. This was only a month ago, and I still can't get the image out of my head :(

by Valley on Jun. 4, 2011 at 10:15 AM
Wow what a powerful and moving post. What an amazing young lady. Thanks for sharing.
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