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Graduation Speech by Steffie Brader, Class of 2012, WAB

June, 2012
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img_4235-copyWhen we were in elementary school, they asked us for the first time what we wanted to be when we grew up. We answered: pirate, astronaut, princess, or in my case, the best artist in the world. Everyone that’s met me knows my artistic skills are near zero, yet at that age, no one cared whether or not our dreams were plausible.

Then when we were in middle school, they asked us again. This time our answers were: rock star, teacher, scientist, or in my case, surgeon, because I thought that the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy had the coolest jobs ever.

But now, they want a serious answer…what do you want to be when you grow up? Well, for me the answer is…I dunno

That’s the beauty of WAB. In high school, we spent four years of our lives learning about whatever subject interested us, be it Environmental Systems and Societies or Geography or Physics or Psychology. We were allowed to join, set up, or take part in any activity that came to mind (remember Franklyn’s Opera trips). Nowhere was there a teacher that said, “that can’t be done”, they only said “how do you plan on doing it”. Every student was unique and had their own ideas, and most weren’t shy about letting their voices be heard. With WAB, we experienced near the best that can be offered.

Throughout my time here, I’ve met people from around the world, each with their own story to tell. This class in front of you in particular is probably the most diverse group of people I’ve ever met. Agreement isn’t always guaranteed, but perhaps this just illustrates that we all have opinions. We care, albeit too much at times. We put heart and soul into everything we do. And we always strive for the highest result possible, because, as someone famous once said, when you shootfor the moon, even if you miss, you’ll landamong the stars.

So at the end of these four years of high school, with everything that WAB has already let us do, some of us are left a tad clueless. With so many possibilities out there, how are we ever supposed to limit ourselves to one career pathway for the rest of our lives?

Maybe the point is that we don’t have to know just yet. Instead, we should keep the spirit that we take for granted at WAB and bring it to our next destination. Now comes the time to explore, to find ourselves. Time to take a subway or train to an unknown stop and walk around the whole day, having absolutely no idea where you are. Time to go shopping and spend our parent’s money before we’re the ones that have to pay for everything. Time to join the beekeeping society or the trampoline squad at university just because we can. Time to make new friends, while saying see you next time to the old ones. Time to change our mind, again and again and then perhaps….again.

WAB taught me that the possibilities are endless. In university or wherever else we may go, it’s time to discover as many of those as we can, even more than we already did in high school. While the final destination for a lot of us remains vague, the journey is what really matters. I believe that so far, our journey has been amazing and I think I speak on behalf of the entire class when I say thank you for being a part of ours. Friends, parents, teachers, family, and even random strangers on the street. Each one of them has added to our high school experience.

Four years ago, we arrived at WAB’s high school doors scared, but eager, thinking it would be just like middle school except bigger, better and perhaps a tad more serious. Now, 4 years later, we emerge overwhelmed by the experience, raw, brain dead, yet strangely, still feeling invincible. Because after finishing high school at WAB, nothing else can take us down. Thank you.

- Speech by Steffie Brader,

Class of 2012, Western Academy of Beijing


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