by John Copley
(ANNews) – The final speaker at the Amiskwaciy Academy Graduation Ceremony held on June 8 at the Edmonton Inn, was boxing sensation, Jelena Mrdjenovich. The World Boxing Association Champion admitted that though she can hold her own in the ring, she was a bit nervous delivering her address. “In the ring I’m fine but ask me to stand up here in front you today and offer some advice and I get a bit flustered,” she noted.
Laughing it off, Mrdjenovich talked about life and offered graduates some food for thought when she said: “Nothing in life that is worthwhile comes easy; you have to work hard for it. I remember the advice that I got from a teacher when I graduated; it was good advice and it guided me through my teenage years and throughout my life. He said that the path through life would not always be easy and that the rough paths and the rough roads we travel across might be difficult to endure, but they will be worthwhile.
“That’s how you gain your experience, increase your knowledge and are able to make better decisions. He said that when a door opens you have to find a way through it, even if you have to kick it down and run through it. He also said that when a window closes, a door will open and when it does you have to act.
“My career was not easy; I started boxing by accident. I suffered a knee injury in university and at that time I thought I had my life all planned out. I was 18 and playing basketball at the University of Alberta; I blew my knee out during the very first practice.
“My road map was gone; I didn’t know what I was going to do. But when that window closed, a new door did open and I walked through it. I took the bull by the horns and I walked into the boxing gym and got hit in the face for the first time. I thought – maybe this is my new door – my eyes were closing but maybe this was the time the door opened.”
It did. She went on to become an eight-time world champion as she accumulated 37 wins, losing only 10 and drawing in one. Mrdjenovich continues to box.
“I offer you this advice,” she said in closing. “Remember that the hard work is just beginning. Set your goals and do whatever it takes to reach them; if you persevere, work hard, stay focused and put your future before all else, you will succeed. Be sure to enjoy the journey; don’t rush. Make friends, be kind and cherish the good moments. Finally, keep an open mind. If one thing fails, the next will succeed and you benefit from every experience. Remember – never give up, never quit. Live one day at a time and make the most of your opportunities.”
Click here for a full recap and photo gallery of the 2017 Amiskwaciy Academy Graduation.