Senior Speeches: Kaleb Ross ’19

October 25, 2018


I learn from my grandma every day. She showed me how to persevere as I watched her battle cancer. 

Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.

As some of you may know, my family is everything to me, specifically, one family member who has shaped me into the person I am today: my grandma.

I was born July 26th, 2001, on the eve of my grandma’s birthday at approximately 5:22 am. I was delivered in what they called a rapid delivery. My umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, and I came out purple, unable to cry. As a result, I spent my first three days of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), in an oxygen tent because my oxygen stats were so low.

Due to the circumstances, my father, older brother, and grandparents all rushed to the NICU to ensure that I was going to be okay. Ten months later, I was a healthy baby. My parents returned to work, I was being taken care of by my grandma. This created a special bond.

Unfortunately, shortly after my second birthday my grandma was diagnosed with phase three breast cancer. This put me into preschool at a very young age, which broke my grandma’s heart. As I began school, my grandma began the fight of her life with a year of surgery, chemo, and radiation, followed by another seven years of medication. During her treatment and recovery, she focused on getting my brother and me to play hockey. This was something my father was somewhat conflicted about.

My father was also a successful hockey player, playing juniors, major juniors in Canada, and pros in the minors, he also played professional roller hockey for a short period of time when he returned to California. Even with his passion for the sport, he struggled with the idea of my brother and me playing this sport. He’d devoted his adolescence to playing hockey, which did not allow him to have a typical high school experience. He wanted something different for my brother and me.

Of course, my stubborn grandma put me on the ice. I was five, and I fell in love with the sport. Over the years, both my grandparents encouraged me to play more competitively. Then, when I was eleven, my grandma gave me the opportunity to take my game to the next level. However, this would involve me moving away from home and my family to play at the highest caliber in California with the Golden State Elite Eagles in Northern California.

My parents were concerned because of how young I was, but my amazing grandma didn’t want me to miss this opportunity. She bought an apartment in the Bay Area of California where I could continue improving as an athlete and student. Living with her for the next three years, I appreciated more and more of what she was doing for me. It wasn’t easy for her to live away from my grandpa, their sons, and their grandchildren, but she still hoped to get me every chance I could get to be a better player and a better person.

After two seasons playing in the Bay Area, I was given the opportunity to try out for a prestige school in Minnesota called Shattuck- St. Mary’s. Being accepted here made my grandma ecstatic and extremely proud, knowing all the time and money she has invested in my passion for the game was slowly paying off.

Today, even though I’m thousands of miles away, I still talk to my grandma and the rest of my family on a daily basis. I learn from my grandma every day. She showed me how to persevere as I watched her battle cancer. She taught me what is to commit and strive for your dreams, by sacrificing her time and money by living away from home with me. She shows me what is to be a good and giving person by doing all that she does, without expecting anything in return.  

On the eve of my sixteenth birthday my brother and I decided to pay tribute to my grandma by getting tattoos. The tattoo is a cross made out of hockey sticks with a breast cancer ribbon wrapped around it with the date of 2003 inside for when she was diagnosed. I decided to get it on the left side of my chest due to the fact it’s the closest to my heart. Grandma, I love you, and I will never forget what you have done for me. I will always have you on my heart.

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