Graduation Speech: You ALL Have What it Takes

Graduation Speech: You ALL Have What it Takes

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The past three years I sat over on my left, drenched in this scorching gym, playing Pomp and Circumstance on my tenor saxophone until I thought my lungs were going to explode. Well, we had to stay and watch the rest of the graduation, during which I would usually space out, and sometimes think to myself "It is taking so long to get up on that stage." Lots of us felt this way even last week, bombarded with the last group of projects and assignments that seem to cram themselves into an astonishingly small amount of time.

Finally, the Class of 2012 is about to enter what some fool once called the real world. Shockingly enough, classmates, from what I've heard, the real world looks almost the same as the one here. There are things to like and dislike, freedoms and restrictions you might grumble over, and people of integrity and deceit. But we will not be surrounded by three-foot slabs of brick everyday. And if upon leaving you find people trying to make houses out of mud and sticks, it is not a Western Civ movie. You are probably staring at very poor people, so help them out.

Before going any further, I strongly advise all my classmates to thank their families tonight. This is our class's last night together, but quite soon it will be our last night as a member of our parent's permanent households. I am going to take my opportunity right here. Mom and Dad, Tom and Jess, thanks for all the encouragement, support, and most important love and affection you have shown me every day. Without you, I am quite sure I would not be standing here and quite possibly might not have graduated tonight. Because of my great family, I have successfully overcome all sorts of downturns in eighteen short years. I figured I would not shy away from saying this in front of a crowd if I wrote it down in my speech, so, to my family—I love you.

To succeed in this "real world," we all need to develop our own unique niche. I say this, but I realize it must be done in actions, not words. I confess I have no idea what mine will be. I have not even figured out what general area of interest I wish to explore.

This indecision, which I am not alone in experiencing, is made all the more complicated by the era we are entering.

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We are the first class to have gone through school in the post-9/11 era. In this era, all Americans have become aware of our surroundings. An international community does exist, and our actions affect everyone. In addition, I realized I could even proceed towards a career relating to or immersed in a foreign country. Incredible new ways to find our niche present themselves to our generation. The baby boomers are aging, they need to be taken care of and their roles filled in by today's students. And of course the Internet age has opened up previously impenetrable barriers to opportunity. The burdens of these new opportunities are just as great, however, as America's success brings with it responsibility and potential conflict. Right now, safety for the people and the earth are problems without clear solutions. These problems will breed innovation, and with it success for people who help make the world run smoother.

Capitalize on our remarkable opportunities by pursuing what you love. Yes, this advice is overused—Don't do it for the money but for the love of it—but almost everyone I hear talking about future plans mentions the green stuff, so the cliche needs repeating. In this day and age, whatever we pursue, we can find a way to be successful. Thankfully, if you like to make crafts, you can now sell them on eBay. Enjoy voicing your opinion in words? Start your own blog. No matter what your interest, success is out there, just itching to be discovered. Just find a niche. But take caution when weighing money against enjoyment and other factors. Some of us will become doctors and get paid a lot, others will travel routes we generally do not associate with success and riches. But these people can get lucky and become billionaire tycoons anyway. Have fun with life, because in a sense it really is a game, a combination of skill and luck. Remember that success and wealth are not closely related, but they are distant cousins.

Use creativity and energy in your pursuits, then look behind you to see your triumph. This class has shown ample energy and interest in everything we have done, and it shows—always competitive at Winter Carnivals, lots of statewide awards at the tech center, successful athletic teams and recently an incredible senior week. More important, the generous, vibrant attitude people in Smallville are raised with makes for greater success academically, financially and socially. Every single student behind me has the tools to find their niche.

Last, I want to emphasize the term student—not a term any of us will lose this evening. Whether we are going to school in the fall or not, every one of us loves to learn. This is not even debatable. We all have multiple interests. Some of us love to learn about politics. A few want to know how computers work. Others like to learn how to take care of their trucks or snowmobiles. No matter what the calling, we love to learn. This message is universal; whatever you learn about, use it to your advantage. Reap the rewards of your interests, and you will have found your niche.

But the real world is tough. Just try telling that tough city waitress your school lunch lady let you pay a few days late. After several days of skipping work, you will not always get off the hook by serving tutorial. I know these are scary thoughts and tough words, but I will attempt to lighten the tone by leaving you with a poem.

Class of 2012
Today is our day
Our mountain is waiting,
We're well on our way.
But tonight we should relax,
Chat about memories from the joyful to the irate,
Many emotions came from eighteen years,
Let's try to laugh, cry and celebrate.
But enjoy the time quick,
Tomorrow we travel separate paths.
None of us sure where they end,
Will we again share stories and laughs?
Luck to all of you I would wish,
But I think I will save it for now,
Because I know we can all succeed sooner...AND later,

All that remains a mystery is how...THANK YOU.
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