5 things I wish I could tell my 22-year old self | Commencement Speech to the Class of 2018

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This year I had the INCREDIBLE HONOR of coming back to my Alma Mater, Whittier College and giving the Commencement Speech for the graduating Class of 2018! I really cannot believe it has been 9 years since I've graduated! Here's my speech. Hope it inspires you in some way!

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5 Things I Wish I Could Tell my 22-Year Old Self
By: Cassey Ho

Being back here on campus makes me so emotional. I mean, when I look at Stauffer, I can vividly see the moment my mom and dad left me as a little freshman crying my face off like an abandoned child as they drove away.

When I look at the Science Building, I can see myself frantically walking up the stairs in a hoodie and top knot, trying to last minute memorize the 4 nitrogenous bases found in DNA. Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine. Right Dr. Bourgaize?

And when I look at the CI, I remember all the food I stuffed myself with because I treated every meal like I was at Hometown Buffet. Let’s just say the Freshman 15 was very real.

Seeing these buildings again and seeing my professors again makes me realize how much Whittier played a role in sculpting me into the person I am today. So many micro-decisions were made right here, that at the time, I thought were trivial. But they ended up changing the entire course of my career.

Graduates, I am really excited to have the honor to speak to you today. From Poet to Poet and peer to peer, I really want to take this opportunity to have a real talk with you before you march across this stage into adulthood. If you’re feeling lost or unsure of what you’re meant to do, don’t worry. That’s normal. Your 20s are meant for figuring these things out. Actually, the rest of your life is meant for figuring things out, but hopefully you will have learned a few things by then.

Look, I’m not going to stand here and pretend that I know everything, because I don’t! But I can tell you 5 things I wish I could have told my 22 year old self.

#1. Love your parents. But know they’re not always right.

As a child of strict Asian immigrant parents, I also grew up being falsely advertised that there were only 3 career options for me. For my Asian brothers and sisters out there, you know what I’m talking about, right?!

And if you don’t, let me break it down for you.

Us Asian kids only had the choice of becoming a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. That’s it. Any other option was a disgrace to the family.

My dad decided he wanted a doctor in the family, so that was my fate. The problem was, I didn’t want to have anything to do with being a doctor. I had been sketching gowns ever since I was 6 – sewing clothes for my Barbies and then designing my friends’ prom dresses. But when I told my dad that I wanted to be a fashion designer, he glared at me and said:

“No. You will do no such thing.”

“Why?” I asked.

“If you become a fashion designer, you will be poor. You will be unsuccessful. So…you know what that means, right?”

“What?”

“It means you will have NO FRIENDS!”

Looking back, I think it was the “no friends” part that really got to me. So I dutifully accepted my fate, tucked my dream away, and went off to major in Biology and minor in Business.

But it wouldn’t be long before I realized how painful it was to be living out someone else’s dream while sacrificing my own.

#2. Take responsibility for your own destiny.

…you can read the rest of my commencement speech at

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Cassey Ho is an award-winning fitness instructor, entrepreneur and online personality. As the creator behind Blogilates, the #1 female fitness channel on YouTube, she’s transformed millions of lives through helping them achieve their strength and weight-loss goals. She focuses on making fitness fun and the results are evident. Cassey's unique format, POP Pilates©, which launched as a workout video on YouTube in 2009, has become a live fitness class that can be taken at gyms all over the world with over 3,000 POP Pilates classes being taught monthly. Her authenticity continues to shine through, making her one of the most relatable fitness icons online and beyond. She's also the author of the best-selling book, Hot Body Year Round and is the designer of her own activewear line, POPFLEX.

With a wide range of free workout videos available, Cassey's channel focuses on ab exercises, butt & thigh exercises, arm exercises, pilates, cardio routines, fat burning workouts, high intensity interval training workouts (HIIT), stretching and flexibility routines and so much more!

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