A Graduation Speech To My Senior Class At Charter Arts

A Graduation Speech To My Senior Class At Charter Arts

I didn't get to say it in person, but I'd still like you to have it.
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It is with great pride, honor, excitement, and solemnity that we gather here today to graduate. Here we stand, on the cusp of a new era for each and every one of us, the precipice of the future that is no longer looming in the distance. At the risk of being totally cliche — the rest of our lives begin today.

I don’t think I need to say to the parents and teachers in the audience that this occasion is special, because you all know how special this institution is.

Everyone has had a different experience at Charter Arts, but I think there’s one thing we can all agree on — and that’s the love that surrounds our school. Whether that be love for each other, love for our teachers, or an intense, incredible love for our art. One of the quotes that has resonated with me throughout this entire experience is: “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” Now we all know that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a little bit crazy, but four years here have convinced me that he is right. Love may not have been the first thing we thought about when we were up until 3 a.m. writing an essay or suffering through a class or when things went wrong. And things did go wrong. But right now, in this beautiful moment, think about the love you’ve felt here, felt for each other, felt for this experience.

I believe that love is what brought us here to Charter Arts in the first place. We all have a love for what we do. We have a love for our craft and that’s why we chose to devote four years of our lives to it. Or if you’re like me, you love too much, and you can’t really decide.

For four years, we have been praised for our intelligence and our talent, our compassion, our willingness to try again and again, to get up when we fall. And maybe we don’t realize it in the moment, but it’s true — we are intelligent, we are talented and we are determined and passionate and curious in ways that we didn’t appreciate the first day we walked through those doors, but we appreciate now, as we walk out of them. And we have grown our capacity to love. We entered Charter Arts, and left an entirely different world behind us, all for something that we loved. It’s easy to forget now, that the new changes we are about to come upon are similar to the changes we have already experienced.

Change is a frightening thing. Leaving anything, anyone, that you’ve known for so long is scary and it’s hard to find any comfort in that fact. So I’m here to admit to you: I’m afraid, but I refuse to let it stop me. We make the decision whether or not our fear will paralyze us or push us forward. We make the decision whether or not fear will make us give up. Fear is never meant to be an answer. My point is this: If you let the fear of change control you, you may be giving up on another experience of love like we had here. If we had said we were too afraid of this change, that we were too afraid to come to Charter Arts and to make a decision about our lives, the love in this room wouldn’t exist. To continue loving what you do through fear and constant change sounds impossible, but we’ve already done it, and what an experience it was.

There is no simple way for me to end this, other than to tell you again that I hope you embrace all of the love you have in your life and that you embrace change and never let apprehension about the future control the decisions you make now. We leave here today with bravery; not fear, and recognition of the courage and love that is inside each and every one of us. A courage born to us here, a courage we will carry for the rest of our lives. Change is coming for each of us; we are all headed somewhere. I’m so honored to be able to tell you that I hope you get there.

Cover Image Credit: Ashlyn Miller

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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There Is No 'Right Way' To React To A Shooting

Everyone is different.

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After the shootings this year in New Zealand, Brazil, and close to home for some of us Aurora, people have been reacting in different ways. With some offering their thoughts and prayers, donating money to help pay for the funerals of the victims, fighting for action in regards to ending gun violence, candlelight vigils basically anything that can help them in this time of grief.

There is no right or wrong way to react to a shooting — everyone grieves in their own ways. We should not judge one another for how we grieve in a tragedy.

People have been saying that thoughts and prayers won't do anything. However, maybe it can be a comfort to some people—a way to let people know that they are thinking of them and that they care.

Sometimes people may want to donate money or blood to help out any survivors who may have suffered from blood loss or create GoFundMe accounts to either help out with medical expenses or to pay for the funerals of the victims or even start charities like Islamic Relief USA. Donating your time and money is a good way to help out because you are making a difference that is a form of action you are taking.

There is also grieving in the form of vigils. One example of a vigil is this guy who makes crosses every time there is some kind of tragedy. Vigils are often a good way to remember the victims, to pray for the healing of the survivors, to talk about what they were like as people.

Some people even want to take action by demanding that the laws change a good example of this would be March for Our Lives, which happened after the Parkland shooting last year. This march was fighting for gun control or should I say changes in the gun laws America currently has.

Some people also do acts of solidarity, for example, wearing a hijab like the prime minister of New Zealand did when she went to go visit the Christchurch shooting survivors. My community college had something a couple of years ago called Hijab Day to help show solidarity with our friends. I participated, and it was quite an experience—no one should ever be afraid to be who they are.

There is never a right or wrong way to react, and no one should ever criticize one another for how they react. It's not a test where there is a right or wrong answer—everyone is different and that is okay.

No one should ever have to be afraid to go to school, go to work, or go to their place of worship or wherever they decide to go. Whatever we decide to do to make a change, as long as we are taking some kind of action, is good enough for me.

Nothing ever gets done by sitting around and doing nothing, so whatever it is you do, get out there and do it. As long as you are showing support it doesn't matter how you show it.

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