Elin Nordegren, Tiger Woods' ex-wife, graduated from Rollins College in Florida over the weekend and gave an inspiring commencement speech that highlighted how her education helped her persevere through a troubled home life.
Because she maintained a nearly perfect grade point average, Nordegren, 34, was given the Hamilton Holt Outstanding Senior Award and asked to give the speech, which she did not let go to waste. Without mentioning him by name, Nordegren quipped about Woods, and explained what she'd learned over her nine-year college career.
She said that night school had offered her a "place of peace in the wild storm of my personal life."
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"Education has been the only consistent part of my life for the last nine years. And it has offered me comfort — because education is the one thing that no one can take away from you," she stated.
She then started in on her reflection of her marriage.
"I've been called a 'woman with no words' in the media and criticized for not talking very much," she said. "A commencement speech is meant to inspire. When I started to think what I should say to you all today, I got a little scared. What words can I use to inspire us all after a long journey in college?"
Nordegren, Swedish by birth and a former model, married Woods in 2004, and enrolled at Rollins in the fall of 2005.
"I was 25 years old. I had just recently moved to America. I was married without children. Today, nine years later, I'm a proud American, and I have two beautiful children," she stated with a smile.
In 2010, Nordegren chased Woods out of their Isleworth, Florida, home with a golf club after learning of his 15th affair — something that came to light after Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade in November of 2009, according to The New York Post
"It was right after I had taken Communication and the Media that I was unexpectedly thrust into the media limelight. I probably should have taken more notes in that class," she said as the crowd reacted with laughter.
"My Psychology and Law class helped me through some of the most challenging times of my life . . . My hope is that today I’m showing my children, Sam and Charlie — who’s sleeping in his chair — that it’s never too late to follow your dream."
Nordegren also praised her fellow classmates, who she said were an inspiration to her.
"When you told me stories about your full-time day jobs, about coming home to cook dinner for your families, and about making sure your children were cared for while you were attending classes, you inspired me. Whatever obstacle I was facing at the time, your stories and sharing helped me put things in perspective."
Dean David C.S. Richard praised Nordegren for her bravery and for her outstanding commitment to charity. She recently helped organize an event for child-welfare group "Place of Hope" that raised over $500,000, The Orlando Sentinel reported
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