Senior Speeches: Mahelet Getachew, Class of 2019

February 27, 2019

 If you feel you’re here to ride your life instead of drive it, then you’ll have to accept where the flow takes you.

Each year, seniors and postgraduates 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.  

There is a common modern philosophy that says to go with the flow. However, the downside of this belief system is that you must yield control of your life to that flow. That’s fine if you don’t mind living passively and letting life happen to you. If  you feel you’re here to ride your life instead of drive it, then you’ll have to accept where the flow takes you. But sometimes the flow doesn’t go in a healthy direction.

On the other hand, there’s an alternative way of looking at life that says you are the driving force behind it. This is a more challenging way to live, but also a much more rewarding one. Hard work is the root of all human success. To succeed in life, one must endure the challenges life presents and work to overcome them to be the best version of yourself. We must not only use hard work to impress those around us, but also to achieve goals that we set for ourselves. We must learn to work hard to satisfy our conscience, whether your goals are making it to the NHL or being the owner of your own business. No matter what our goals are, we must be willing to sacrifice our time, bodies, and minds to work as hard as we can to be the best that we can be.

I was raised by my parents to become a hard worker and, most importantly, a caring person. I was taught these qualities by experiencing and viewing them first-hand.

I quickly learned at a very young age the value of hard work. My father is the hardest-working man I know. At a young age, he had to manage a bar that my grandfather owned in Ethiopia. He did chores for hours.  

After finishing high school as one of the best students, my father was selected to receive a full foreign scholarship to study abroad.  He often stayed up all night studying in his room or the library. But the unusual thing about it is that he enjoyed it. I don’t know about you but I don’t relish the idea of sitting in one spot and studying for hours, although it is occasionally necessary and beneficial for the future.

My father studied veterinary medicine in the part of the former Soviet Union now known as Ukraine. Working hard has always been his motto, which resulted in him receiving another scholarship to study abroad in France for his master’s degree. After completing his studies, he went back to Ethiopia and worked in several veterinary institutions, clinics, and laboratories. He played an important role in leading and working in many government projects for the eradication of animal diseases. I also realize that teamwork goes hand in hand with hard work. This lesson will be beneficial for the future, when I get a job and work with my coworkers.

In life, we’re told to “go with the flow”. The implication here is that we shouldn’t struggle against forces beyond our control. Using this phrase shuts down all conversation about how a person is going to achieve their goals. Hard work is the baseline of great achievements. Getting organized, setting goals, making plans to achieve them, and staying on track is hard work. Although it’s challenging, it’s the only way to the top.

I’d like to end this speech with a quote by Kevin Durant: “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”


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