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.
Over my two years at Shattuck, I have somehow accumulated only one regret. I am here today to redeem myself for that one regret.
Sophomore year, 9th-hour public speaking. It was a nice fall afternoon, I walked to weCreate just like every other day. All was good until Mr. McKinley asked me if I was ready to present my speech. I had completely forgotten all about it. I was panicking.
I told Mr. McKinley that I didn’t know we had to give a speech today. He looked skeptical, but he graciously gave me five minutes to think of one. The prompt was “someone who had demonstrated bravery in your life.” I spent every second of those five minutes thinking about the Algebra 2 quiz I had just taken 8th-hour. I was praying that my grade would go up from this quiz, and I was preoccupied with thinking over the few problems I had struggled with.
My five-minute lifeline was up. Mr. McKinley called me to the stage, and I took my sweet time getting there. Then, during that 30-second walk to the front of the class, it clicked: I was going to tell the story of my cat and the washing machine.
Basically, my cat, Oliver, was sleeping in the laundry basket with dirty clothes that were waiting for the current load of laundry to finish. He was extremely small at this point in life, so my mom who then put in the laundry did not see that he was in there. My mom started the cycle and didn’t realize that he was in there until a little while later when she heard a horrendous meow coming from the washing machine. She got him out of there and had to rush him to an emergency pet clinic because he was barely conscious and shivering. He survived and stayed with us for two more years until we had to put him down due to paralysis from a blood clot caused by congestive heart failure.
I thought this story connected well with the prompt, and I would say I did pretty well for winging it. Mr. McKinley shook his head and said, “A cat cannot be brave.”
Today, I want to go back to that prompt, and talk about someone in my life who has been brave, besides my cat. My mom has demonstrated bravery and patience many times throughout my life, from dealing with me screaming over video games at 2 am, to being a rock for my siblings and me during hard times. My mom has to put up with a lot on a daily basis, and not just from my siblings and me. She works countless hours and still comes home with a smile on her face ready to take on the challenges that her children are about to throw at her.
With a computer science degree and a foot in the modeling industry, she decided to leave her dream of becoming a world-renowned model for a family. She originally was going to be a stay at home mom, but she wanted more stress for some reason and took the opportunity to become a loan officer and make a little extra money for our family.
Her success from this opportunity brought on a million new possibilities for our family, like being able to travel around the world. She demonstrated bravery first by choosing a family over a passion while leaving behind something that was already making her happy, and then again by taking a risk with a new job. I’m extremely grateful for both my parents, and I hope that I’ll be as brave as they are when they need me the most later on.