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Valedictorian Speech by Juhi Kalra, SAS Pudong

May, 2012
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Graduates, faculty, parents, and relatives, good morning & congratulations to the class of 2012. Today you have achieved something special. Something only 99% of International students your age will ever know – a high school diploma. That’s right, with your diploma you now have a crushing 1% advantage over all the other dropouts. You know, dropout losers like, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Nevertheless, Class of 2012, we have done it.

Today, I am supposed to stand in front of you and deliver a speech that will move you, a speech that will inspire you and I take this honor very seriously. In fact, when I was told 2 weeks ago that I was to be your speaker, I decided to prepare with the same intensity many of you have devoted to your final exams. So at 3am last night, I began.

Well, more like, I began to reminisce.

Four school years ago, all of us stepped foot into high school as the cheerful, hyper-active, slightly annoying, freshmen that we were – of course we like to believe that we have changed so much since then.

Four school years ago, I was a new kid to Shanghai American School.

And four school years ago, even before my first day of school, I had concluded and whole-heartedly believed that high school would be awful.

Not because of the immense workload that would build-up by senior year — nooo, I had no idea about the stress, tears, and breakdowns that we would all experience, especially, this last year. Not because it would mean that my parents would constantly nag me that about all the responsibilities I would have to take on like, “Juhi, darling, you are in high school now, you need to use your time wisely, or else somebody will get hurt real bad!” But simply because I transferred to SAS from (get ready for this) Concordia! Well guys, just as we hold our little grudges against Concordians for various reasons, they hold just as a big grudges against us. So, before even coming here to SAS, I had been brainwashed about what to expect – the Jocks, the Mean Girls, and the nerds. Yes, the stereotypical Hollywood Public school.

And then there was yesterday. As I watched several of my classmates bowl, play pool, and laugh with one another, I couldn’t see the Mean Girls or the Jocks – instead I saw a class that had evolved so much over the past four years; a class that was unified. Yes, I know, this is getting very cheesy.

But Class of 2012 we are really special group of individuals. I mean we are so special that some of us have been intelligent enough to impersonate Dr. Borden on Ichat and send underclassmen to the HS Office, others are so special that they have done things like score baskets for the other team in basketball (I wonder who I am talking about), and yes, some of us have even prank called an embassy. A special class indeed.

And yet, despite all our small silly mistakes, we have made it to today – a day for us to celebrate together for a final time and then separate on our individual paths. Of course, we cannot forget that we did not reach here all by ourselves. In fact, I don’t know about every one of you, but I know that I would not have been able to reach where I am today without my family’s constant support, my teachers continuous efforts to challenge me, and of course all my friends to depend upon. So guys, in honor of every single person in this room who has helped us in one way or another to morph us into the individuals we have become today, let us give them a quick round of applause as a token of our appreciation.

Before I continue, I would like you to note that when I learned that a Valedictorian’s speech was not only supposed to be inspirational but also teeming with advice about our future that will change your lives forever, I was, daunted. I didn’t want to sound cliché, and I didn’t want to preach. But I did want to tell you all one thing. In less than an hour, each and every one of you will be up here, receiving your diploma that will symbolize all of your hardwork these past four years. And as you descend this stage, you will be taking your first step towards your future. As you do so, my one real piece of learning from high school that I would like to impart to you is that whatever you do, never make the same mistake as I did – never go to a new place with preset judgments. We all were taught not to judge a book from its covers, and yet, as I began high school, I did. It took my a good year and a half to realize that I was wrong, but I always wonder what if I hadn’t been so judgmental? What would those one and a half years have been like?

We all have heard success quotes, like “failures are the stepping stones to success”, but there is one that I really like, “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way”. Class of 2012, I hope you take that to heart.

Once again, congratulations and thank you all for an amazing four years of my life, and of course, Conan O’Brien’s Dartmouth commencement.

- Valedictorian Speech by Juhi Kalra, Class of 2012, SAS Pudong

 

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