Valedictorian Speech – Delia Cruz
Good morning Fr. Vigilanti, Sr. Jeannie, Mrs. Duggan, faculty, staff, parents, and, most importantly, the class of 2016.
I just love saying that phrase: ‘the class of 2016.’ We made it, my friends/my sisters. All of those countless hours spent learning in our classrooms, finishing our homework, and crying about our finals have finally paid off, because here we are, ready to celebrate our commencement from high school onto bigger and better things. I know all of you are eager to graduate today -seriously, even I’m tempted to grab my diploma right now and run away with it- so I won’t take up too much of your time. Before I get to the good stuff, however, I want to take a moment to say thank you to all those who helped get us here today. First and foremost, my first thank you is to the parents of the class of 2016, and I promise, that has nothing to do with the fact that my mom was looking over my shoulder as I wrote this. But seriously, to all the parents in this room, thank you so much. You have made so many sacrifices to put us through high school. You’ve loved us, believed in us, supported us, and nurtured us; you are the reason we are here today, celebrating our graduation. And, for that, you all deserve a hundred thank yous.
To our teachers, who went both above and beyond the call of duty to impart their time, talent, and knowledge unto us: I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. What you’ve given us during our time at AMSU cannot be expressed simply in words, but in the actions and new heights we have achieved and will continue to achieve following our graduation. And, what’s more than that: you’ve dealt with us for four years straight. That itself deserves a gold star. A special thank you also goes out to Fr. Vigilanti, Sr. Jeannie, and Mrs. Duggan, who expect excellence from us even when do not expect it of ourselves. To the faculty, staff, and the rest of our family at AMSU: thank you so much for your continued support and reassurance. You are part of the community that we will take with us even after we graduate, and that is something that can never be replaced.
Last and most certainly not least, I want to thank the class of 2016 for making my senior year the best one yet. It wasn’t always easy -I still have war flashbacks from writing that senior research paper, and from those horrible days where the library’s printers ran out of ink- but we got through it, and that, to me, is what makes our class so special: our tendency to prevail. I mean, come on, we got through the great flood of junior year. That pretty much reassures me that we’re all going to take over the world someday. We’re capable, we’re confident, we’re creative, we’re charismatic… And I’m running out of words that start with c, so I’m going to stop there, but the point is, we’re pretty great. I have been blessed with the incredible opportunity to spend my four years of high school with amazing athletes, musicians, vocalists, artists, writers, photographers, leaders… The list goes on and on. You have not only made my time at Ursula extremely memorable, but you’ve also reassured me that no matter what happens in the future, no matter what roads we each decide to take, we’re all going to be just fine, and we’re going to go off and do incredible things in the world. I am able to stand here with confidence knowing that we will make the most of our futures just as we have made the most of our time together.
Freshman year, as I’m sure was the case with most of us, was kind of a major ‘yikes’ for me. Honestly, if you find any pictures of me from back then, please do us all a favor and burn them. But, setting that aside, the journey from back then until now taught me something important. Life, like high school, has its ups and downs. The future is unpredictable, and while we hope that there will mostly be good days, the bad days are part of the package, too. But if there’s one thing I want you to take from all of this, it’s that things can and will get better. If there ever comes a day, months or even years from now, when something bad happens and you feel like it’s the end of the world, just sit back, take a deep breath, and tell yourself: ‘I’ll get through this,’ because you will, just like you got through high school. And know that, no matter where you end up, you’ll never be alone, because you’ll always have your sisters and family at AMSU looking out for you.
Congratulations, Class of 2016. I wish each and every one of you the best of luck, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll all do in the future. Thank you.
Salutatorian Speech – Cinthia Ibarra
Good morning members of the Board of Trustees, Father Vigilanti, Sister Jeannie, Mrs. Duggan, faculty, staff, friends, families, and finally: the Class of 2016.
Wow. After four years we are once again sitting in our caps and gowns, making the transition not from eighth grade to high school, but from high school to college. Before I begin with the talk of the future, I want us all to take a deep breath and focus on this moment. Twenty years from now, when we are all off living our lives, reaching for even greater successes, I want us all to be able to look back on today and realize what a momentous occasion this is. All the drama, all the stress, all the anxiety that took place can finally be overshadowed by the realization that our own happiness, and who we have become is far greater than any obstacle that may obstruct our path to greatness. Our definition of success is as different to each of us as the way we wore our uniform. Though it is made of the same material, we each gave it our own touch to wear it uniquely and as best as we could. Whether your greatest success was waking up each morning to see the light of a new day, or stepping out of your comfort zone and making new friends, or even improving in that class you struggled in, know that your efforts were not in vain. And for that, I want us all to give each other a round of applause.
We sit here as successful young ladies who have shared a bond unlike no other with young women with whom we may now call sisters. A trip down memory lane will remind us that each year of our time at Ursula has not only been a testimony of our unity but also of our sense of resilience during times of adversity. In our freshman year our school community suffered the tragic loss of one of our sisters and that year we truly realized how much support we all provide to each other in times of need. Sophomore year we sang to our senior sisters, tearful that they were leaving but also excited that we would receive our own freshmen sisters the following year. And who can forget the great flood of ’15, our junior year, when we had to relocate to the convent? Our senior year proved to have its own exhilarating experience when we had to evacuate the school the opening night of Little Shop of Horrors. What a wild ride our four years at Ursula were, and I think we can all agree that the memories we created were ones to last a lifetime.
But even when we leave to go on to college, we will continue to be part of Ursula, for our connection to this community does not end once we receive our diploma. I am positive that we all have something special to offer this world, and whether you find out what it is now or ten years from now, whenever you do, share it with those around you. Do your part to make this a better world than the one we were born into. To put it in perspective, try to remember at least one person in your life who has been a source of inspiration, who has motivated you to become a better person or who has shown you that you are worth so much more than you believe. This person, whether they know it or not, has made a difference in your life, and because of it, they have made the world all the better. And so today I ask all of you to do the same. All seventy-seven of us are capable of making a change in and of becoming positive influences in someone else’s life. We all have our own stories of struggle that have shaped who we are today and I challenge you to use these moments of strife to your advantage, to inspire others so that they know that regardless of what cards life decides to deal us, our will to keep marching on will always prevail. And so before I conclude, I wish to impart on you all one last piece of advice that come from Winston Churchill, words that I hope you will remember in both your darkest of moments as well as in your highest of spirits: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Class of 2016, we have made it this far together, and now we have the skills necessary to make it even further on our own. I believe in all of you and know that from this moment forward we are united as sisters.
Thank you and congratulations!