Photo Credit: Emily Wise/Used with permission
Good evening Mr. Raimo, Mrs. Nitchals, Mrs. Krukar, members of the administration, faculty, and staff, associates of the Sisters of the Holy Names, parents, friends, and graduates. It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to the graduation of the Class of 2020, and I am truly honored to be speaking before you tonight.
I would, of course, like to begin with a few thank-yous. It would be foolish of me to say that we arrived at this momentous occasion without some serious help. To our teachers, thank you for putting up with our shenanigans and for your dedication to ensuring our success. To our parents and guardians, thank you for providing us with a Catholic education that holds value beyond measure and supporting us in our endeavors. To Mr. Kubiak, thank you for launching and executing a full-on investigation when my scooter went missing from the parking garage. You’re a real one. To Coach Ray and my teammates, thank you for believing in me more than I did myself. And to my fellow classmates, thank you for making these last four years so memorable.
When I first arrived at the Academy, I thought the “sisterhood” was fake. I didn’t really buy into it. But now I’m almost embarrassed to admit that a shred of doubt had ever crossed my mind. That sisterhood has since made itself known to me in the casual yet intimate exchanges of genuine care and concern for one another in the hallways, collaborating as a grade to make Groundhog Day work for our Spirit Week holiday costume, earning the Sword, sharing Quizlets, supporting our friends at Spirit Nights, concerts, plays, and art shows; and growing together in faith through service on mission trips at the local, national, and even global levels. I feel great pride, gratitude, and fondness for the memories we’ve made together, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Well, maybe there is one thing I would change. When I began to write this speech, a certain part of me wanted to ignore the elephant in the room and make tonight feel as normal as possible. But with that came an understanding that, if anything, the events of recent months have illustrated our strength and resilience. We’ve come to know better than anyone how easy it can be for what once was certain to slip out from under us. But the best kind of stories are the unpredictable ones: leaving you on the edge of your seat to wonder what will happen next. That, my friends, is life.
The hand we were dealt had a major plot twist, but it didn’t stop us from staying connected to one another and seeing it through to the very end. And it won’t stop us from taking the next step into the rest of our lives, because the foundation of an Academy of the Holy Names education has shaped us into confident young women instilled with the grace and courage to make a positive impact on this world.
What I’ve come to realize is that while we cannot change the circumstances in which we’ve been placed, the decision to act boldly anyway is what makes all the difference. What never ceases to be within your control is how you choose to respond to adversity. I firmly believe that the Class of 2020 will not be remembered as the ones that graduated during a pandemic; rather, the ones that stared at defeat and found hope. I wish each one of you the very best in your future adventures, and can’t wait to see what great things you will achieve. Thank you.