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Valedictorian Speech by Felicia Hanitio, SAS Puxi

May, 2012
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Families, friends, and faculty, good afternoon and thank you for coming today. The graduating Class of 2012, congratulations! Isn’t it hard to believe we’re finally graduating?

img_1177As we’re here celebrating the completion of our high school education, let us begin by reflecting on the early days of our education, and the ways in which we have changed or maybe stayed the same since then. Many of you know that I have a baby brother, Joshua. A week ago, my mom was sitting in on one of his classes at school. Much to her surprise, whenever the teacher asked a question, Joshy would be eagerly waving his hand in the air, bursting to give his answer, even for difficult questions that my mom hadn’t expected Joshy to know the answers to. It turned out that he often did not know the correct answer, but that didn’t stop him. If he’d been asked to explain the mechanism by which an esterification reaction proceeds, he probably would’ve still attempted an answer.  

Throughout the years, we, the Class of 2012, have all been like Joshua in our own ways. Maybe in the early days, our enthusiasm for learning, like Joshua’s, manifested in us jumping up and down in our seats, exuberantly waving our hands to answer questions in class. For the most part, however, this eager desire to learn and to grow transformed over the years into a passion that drove us as we immersed ourselves in various activities. It may be that we well exceeded the requirements for a class project just because we enjoyed it that much. It may be that we came to school at 7 am every morning or stayed late after practice just because we wanted to win APAC that badly. It may be that we endured 3-hour-long rehearsals 4 days a week just so we could put on a perfect Fringe Festival, Passion or Winter Concert performance. It may be that we, despite being teased mercilessly for it, took 10 minutes to meticulously adjust the margins, font, and print preferences for every document we printed just because we cared that much about the environment. 

So whether it’s in the classroom, on the field, on the stage, or even in the fitness room, we have strived to become better, smarter, stronger, more open-minded, more caring. We have not allowed the fear of failure or embarrassment to prevent us from pursuing our dreams. And look where that has gotten us. I can confidently and honestly say that I am proud beyond words of every single member of the centennial Class of 2012. You have grown into the kind of people that I would not only expect to read about in Forbes magazine or see on Oprah’s show in the future, but that I would trust my life with. Because you are talented and amazing, but more importantly, you are compassionate and steadfast.

However, by no means am I trying to overemphasize the end results—because I believe that the process by which we have learnt and grown, in itself, holds far greater value. A message particularly fitting for our class, perhaps, as it was the essay topic for our January 2011 SAT Reasoning Test. Psychologically, we experience far greater pleasure in making progress toward a goal than when we finally do achieve it. Beyond that, though, our high school experience is not defined by our grades and test scores, but by the things we learned and the moments when we felt truly alive. Thirty years from now, that is what will remain imprinted in our memories.

Today, I would also like to recognize and thank the people who have assisted us throughout this entire learning process with their ceaseless love and support. Our tiger parents, who dreamed of nothing less than the best for us. Our siblings, who were our role models, or for whom we strived to be role models. Our counselors, who were our undisputed lifesavers, especially during the college admissions process. Our teachers and mentors, who sacrificed so much of their own time to help us, and would pull us aside to talk when we seemed to be having a rough day. Last but not least, our friends and peers, who, in our darkest moments, never failed to remind us of our virtues. Thank you. I know I speak for all of the graduates when I say you have all inspired me and made these years worth remembering.

So what now? Where do we go from here? I say we step into college, and into adulthood, with the same eagerness and enthusiasm that has carried us to this point. We continue to dream, and to pursue our dreams. We remember to cherish not only the results but also the process, the little things, the people who touch our lives. We embrace the responsibilities of adulthood, including the social responsibility of using our education to better the lives of others. And we never, ever lose heart.

Thank you, and best of luck in all your endeavors. 

- Valedictorian Speech by Felicia Hanitio,

Class of 2012, SAS Puxi


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