This moment feels surreal for all of us. It’s one of those days that will show up with the caption “Throwback Thursday” a couple of years from now. Some of you guys smirk at that but you know it’s true. And you know what, I don’t mind as long as I’m your woman crush Wednesday.
But today is going to be a memory nonetheless. And how do we feel about that? Those nostalgic moments looking back on this day can be accompanied by both joy and sadness. The joy is from knowing you earned this diploma all by yourself, but that’s technically not true. It wasn’t a solo effort. The support of many helped you get to this point: friends, family, teachers, and anything and everything that motivated you to wake up in the morning to tackle another school day. What about the sadness? It could be from knowing the moment is gone and lost forever and there’s no way to bring it back. But technically that isn’t true either. Today won’t be forgotten; it’ll help propel us to bigger and better things, so this moment is not lost. So I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel today. I just feel overwhelmed. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling that way.
Even with all of these mixed emotions constantly forming with our new memories, from this moment forward I ask of you to eliminate the one feeling that hinders our growth: regret. “Wait, what did she say?” Yeah, that’s right; don’t regret anything. Every choice you make makes you who you are today. It’s up to you to decide who you want to be. Don’t worry if you don’t have your future planned out. The most interesting people I know don’t have a clue; in some ways that might be the smarter choice because they’re more open to new experiences, ideas, and people. And you cannot be defined by someone else’s experiences; it’s impossible to move forward that way. So make your own. If you make the wrong choice, learn from it. Become somebody from it. After all, mistakes make great stories. If you consider yourself stereotypical, then stop believing so. You will miss out on opportunities if you’re so busy trying to fit into a mold. Standing here at this podium, I can tell you right now grades do not determine your level of success. It is determined by your willingness to take advantage of an opportunity.
So you might be thinking, well, what kind of a chance have you taken? I’ve taken a few, but I’m taking another one right here in front of you just to prove it to you. Being a hip-hop head that I am, I am going to rap a little song I wrote for you guys.
Beyond blessed right now, no sadness, just the overwhelming feeling
Taking our first step, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning
Since freshman year I definitely have grown, and this is when I make it be known
I learned to stand up straight and tall on my own, it’s everybody’s milestone
We each have a battle to fight on our own, and trust me it’s a heavy tone
But I see promise deep in your bones, so I’ll say it here on this microphone
Yeah we all made it through high school, and the journey was pretty beautiful
But now we have the pressure to represent where we came from
We have to find our stories and portray them well and then some
It’s a lot to take in as you leave this place
But for a second close your eyes and breathe in place
It’s time to make our school, teachers, friends, and family proud
As we try to become better people, different from the crowd
The best thing one can give is kindness, and everyone can afford that
It’s the best virtue, even though they don’t have an award for that
Everyone has it different so be open to the rarities
Have your heart pumping blood filled with passion and sincerity
Be true to yourself, it’s your hemoglobin of clarity
This school has taught me more than any report card could show
And to my mother, father, and sister there are a lot of things that I owe
I give a piece of myself to this class, my words will live through you
Make your own path, be an individual, the real world is coming to you
Keep it real with many goals but one dream
As we represent the promises of 2014