GREENSBURG — “Sometimes life is unfair, and sometimes bad things happen. That’s hard to understand whether you are 18 or 80,” said Haley Scott DeMaria, who spoke at Seton Hill University’s commencement ceremony May 11.
Scott DeMaria, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, was chosen to speak because she was a “singular inspiration to the Seton Hill community in (their) tragedy,” according to Michele Moore Ridge, chair of SHU’s board of trustees.
Scott DeMaria’s swim team bus was in an accident in 1992 that killed two of her teammates, much like the bus accident that members of the SHU women’s lacrosse team endured in March when they lost their coach, Kristina Quigley, and her unborn child.
Playing on the SHU motto of “hazard yet forward,” she reminded audience members that “we can’t control the hazard, but we can control the forward.”
“There are events in life that we can’t control, but we can control our reaction to it,” she said.
After Scott DeMaria’s accident, she was told she’d never walk again, but she exceeded her doctors’ expectations early on. She can now walk and swim.
“While life might not take you down the life you have planned, it can still be a good path,” she said. She emphasized that each day comes with a choice of what to focus on: trials or blessings.
This choice is harder to make during difficult times, as Scott DeMaria knows, but is still very important.
She suggested engaging in any healing process by surrounding oneself in “the love and strength of a community of faith” — not unlike the type of support that SHU and Notre Dame extended to students — which can also be found in churches.
She talked about the pillars of family, faith and friendship, referring to them as the “three Fs.”
“As long as you nurture the three Fs, one may falter, but the others will hold them up,” she said. Scott DeMaria encouraged people to do something that they love, something she’s done by coaching swimming, teaching Sunday school and becoming involved as a sponsor family for the United States Naval Academy.
“Believe in a cause and make it a passion. Find that passion and make it a career. Recognize your gifts and use them,” she said. “God bless and go forward.”