Graduation Speech: Stand Tall, Set Your Goals High

Graduation Speech: Stand Tall, Set Your Goals High

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As I look out on this crowd tonight, I see a diversity of people. I see grandparents who have raised their families, lived through many crises and have accomplished many goals.

I see mothers and fathers who have fulfilled some of their dreams, but still may be struggling with challenges and goals to meet. Some families are here tonight to watch their oldest child graduate. For other parents, they’re here to celebrate with their youngest child. Yet all parents wish the best for their children and hope to see them succeed in their endeavors.

And last, I see our graduating class. We are excited about what lies ahead, yet some of us are filled with uncertainty about our futures. But we all have one thing in common: We have just begun to search for our hopes and dreams.

As we start out on our journey some of us will find the golden path right away. This will take us straight to our destination with few obstacles along the way. Others will take a path that will lead them to more obstacles and hardships. And some will hit a dead-end. But remember, most dead-ends do have room for a turn-around, and each new day can be a fresh start.

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge I have faced in my life is adapting to life without my father. Watching my family start a new life after his death has made a big impact on me. This tragedy has encouraged me not to take life for granted, and to grab every opportunity that life has to offer. It has taught me to take a chance in life. It has shown me how suddenly life can change and how fragile it really is. Life is precious, be thankful for what you have, and try and make the most of it. Each of you should take a moment to reflect on your past, to remember those who have helped you get here tonight: your parents, your teachers and your friends. Hold on to these memories that are precious to you.

As we leave Warren, our paths will lead us to a world full of opportunities and career choices. Using our technical, manual or personal skills, going to college or developing our creative and artistic talents are all possibilities. As children, we dreamed of becoming teachers, nurses, policemen or astronauts. But as we reached our teen years, our true interests and abilities began to materialize.

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As we go into adulthood, our dreams will begin to turn into reality. It’s up to each of us to find our talent or special gift and strive to keep our dreams alive.

Amanda Bradley’s poem "Always Have A Dream" gives us advice about the future.

Forget about the days
when it’s been cloudy,
but don’t forget your
hours in the sun.
Forget about the times
you’ve been defeated,
but don’t forget
the victories you’ve won.
Forget about mistakes
that you can’t change now,
but don’t forget the lessons that you’ve learned.
Forget about misfortunes you’ve encountered,
but don’t forget the times your luck has turned.
Forget about the days when you’ve been lonely,
but don’t forget the friendly smiles you’ve seen.
Forget about plans
that didn’t seem to work out right,
but don’t forget to always have a dream.

Each of us has the power to succeed, if we choose, for it has been said, "There are no sadder words than 'what could have been.' " So I say to the Class of 2012, "Open the doors and let the future begin." Stand tall, set your goals high. Remember to treat each new challenge as a turn around, not as a dead-end. Do not be afraid to follow the path to your dreams.

Congratulations to the Class of 2012.
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