Valedictorian. Number one out of my entire class. Out of 79 teenagers in my class I was the chosen one. While writing my speech I had tons of writer’s block, procrastination, and just the overall need to brush the speech to the side.
Looking back at all of my high school memories (the good and the bad) made me really realize that I’m about to step into adulthood. It’s the utmost scariest thing, but exploring your horizons, networking, and maturing, is what life is all about. Right?
Within a week before graduation, people were saying things to me like, “J let me hear the speech, man!” or “How’s the speech going Mr. Stewart?” My answer would be, “It’s going great!” knowing I only had one, and I literally mean one sentence, down on the paper at the time. Later on that weekend I could see my high school memories popping up from either my Snapchat or from my photo gallery. Instantly, I thought about my last football season of high school and how I would naturally give words of encouragement, sounding like Ray Lewis as my former teammates would say.
I came up with three things that described me and my classmates as best as possible: Effort, Resilience, and Dedication. These were three things that got me and my classmates to graduation day, three things that they could carry on in life, and three things that could push them to be better each and every day.
Once I’d finished my speech that weekend time flew by in a blink of an eye. Walking on that stage to read it and to introduce the guest speaker truly took my breath away. I wondered if I’d mess up or stumble over my words, but as time got closer I just took three deep breaths and let my humors personality come out. I walked up to the podium and said, “YESSIRR!” At that moment I knew I had everyone’s attention. As a young adult, using my voice at graduation felt weird at first but great in a sense. My mission was to educate and motivate everyone to strive for greatness from that day forward.
Luckily, I was able to blow everyone away with my speech. People said, “That was very inspirational J” and “Man, J, I almost shed a tear.” Those positive comments and remarks from teachers and classmates let me know that I had accomplished my mission. It showed me that you have to cherish every moment you have because before you know it your time will be up.
Anything is possible, trust your first mindset, trust the process, and defy the odds!
By Jaden Stewart, Freshman, Kenyon College