Senior Speeches: Nathan Kraynyk ’19

March 26, 2019

I am happy to say I come from Canada, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and now Faribault, Minnesota. Each place gave me a chance to learn something new.

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.  

On a Sunday night earlier this winter, I was sitting in my room half-heartedly working on the intro to an essay due earlier that morning and trying to kill my phone so I didn’t have to answer a call I was expecting from my dad knowing he was going to yell at me for having eight missing assignments in PowerSchool. It was right then I had realized: My math project, which I had not started, was also due last week. So I took a break from my break and stared blankly into a pile of mail sitting on my desk that had been accumulating over the year. In all that clutter, my eyes happen to focus on one word: Opportunity. And as I sat there I had to ask myself, “Am I taking advantage of the opportunities I was given?”

Thirteen years ago, my parents were given the opportunity to move over 10,000 kilometers away from their humble home in the suburbs of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to the chaotic, bustling city of Kuwait City, Kuwait. Bordered by the two countries of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, this heart of the middle east, for some reason, didn’t exactly scream safety to our family back in Manitoba. Regardless, my parents capitalized on the opportunity. They sold their house and their belongings, packed their bags, and got on the plane with my sister and five-year-old me for our first of many twenty-six-hour journeys across the Atlantic. Unarguably it was the greatest decision of their lives.

Two years later, we moved to Saudi Arabia, the place I have been lucky to call home for the last eleven years. In that time, I have taken school trips in Saudi to Tanzania and Norway, and golf trips at Shattuck to Arizona and Florida. I have befriended families who have also lived most their lives in the Middle East as well as other like-minded students who are just as passionate and driven here at Shattuck. While Shattuck and Saudi Arabia seem like very different places, both have given me experiences that are hard to replicate. Without my parents making this leap, I would not have been able to have any of the opportunities.

I am happy to say I come from Canada, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and now Faribault, Minnesota. Each place gave me a chance to learn something new.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you make opportunities for yourself or if opportunities are merely presented to you. If you don’t choose to capitalize, then you gain nothing. Lucky for me–and all of us here at Shattuck-St. Mary’s–we live a life where opportunities are abundant. It is our job, however, to make something of these opportunities. My biggest fear is to be given this head start in this life, only to fall back after not taking advantage of this position.

Now, as I’m finishing up my senior year, I still do miss the occasional assignment, or don’t spend enough time studying during study hall. But I am lucky to have friends around me as reminders of how fortunate we are to be here. So as I leave Shattuck soon, and have recently left Saudi for the last time, I am eager to create new opportunities for myself, just as my parents did to get where they are today. Thank you mom and dad for being people I hope to be in the future, and for the occasional call to remind me that it takes work to get there. As many of these speeches end, I will leave you with a short quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretzky -Michael Scott.


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