Senior Speeches: Celebrating Differences

April 19, 2017


“All of us are unique in various ways, and I believe that I’ve made the choice to celebrate my uniqueness instead of conceal it, which is something that I think we all need to do.”

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.

Periodically throughout the 2016-2017 school year, we will share excerpts of those speeches with the SSM community, and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.


“I have spent most of my life with my grandmother being a part of it, and watched my grandmother fix things in the house when they went wrong, cooked food for all the 11 members of my family, and cleaned the whole house every single day. She continues to do so to this very day. She would drive me from place to place to help me keep up with my busy schedule, such as school, speed skating, and swimming. That is why coming to the U.S. and leaving my grandma was one of the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do. I’ve come to appreciate, even more so, just how much she had done for me after having come here.

“Now, my mother. A lot people think that their mom is the best mom in the world, and I feel the same about mine. My mom has a lot of roles. She is a leader in her work place, and a mother, and my best friend. At home, she tries to be the best mother she can be, while making sacrifices of herself to give me the best opportunities that she can for me.

“… Without these two women in my life, I would be neither strong nor independent. I wouldn’t know that there were so many options in my life, and I wouldn’t have the confidence to go on to college.”

- Jessie Ro

“My friends were understanding, but could never possibly know the emotional roller-coaster I was being forced to ride. I had to accept responsibility, too, at a very young age, where reading food labels and asking questions was the only way to prevent my symptoms from painfully flaring up. But, I was very shy as a kid, so doing those things was difficult and only increased my discomfort in situations where confidence was critical.

“But, as time went by, I slowly learned that having to eat differently than everybody else was not such a terrible thing, and that realization gave me new confidence. I no longer hid my packages of gluten-free food so no one would see them, and no longer felt afraid to discuss my allergy with new friends. All of us are unique in various ways, and I believe that I’ve made the choice to celebrate my uniqueness instead of conceal it, which is something that I think we all need to do. Sometimes I used to wish that I was born without Celiac Disease and was just a normal kid. But you know what, now I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

- Kyle Robbins

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