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 2017-18 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.
“Thank you, Coach Kuehl, for introducing me and my senior speech.
“I want to talk about how playing soccer has brought more diversity into my life and helped me make connections with people and cultures from around the world. Life isn’t always easy moving from place to place, meeting new people, and starting all over. Soccer made it easy for me to meet most of the influential people in my life.
“I was born in Lexington, Ky. and raised just outside of Lexington in Richmond, Ky. It’s a small town, where you could drive one direction and see places with no running water, or you go the other way and see mansions. Richmond isn’t the most diverse place. Around ninety percent of the population is white, which limits the experiences you have. I’ll be honest, I’m better off than most of the people who live there. I received a private education in Lexington, and my parents could afford to offer me more opportunities in life.
“As a kid, I wasn’t exposed to much diversity. I never attended a school with more than five kids that weren’t white or Christian like me. That really changed when I moved to Texas to play soccer with the Texas Rush. At the time of the move, I didn’t really know what to think, other than I was playing soccer at a higher level, and I was the new guy there to take someone’s playing time.
“My team was made up of mostly Hispanic players. Only two players on the team were white - myself included. The team’s main language was Spanish and it took some time to get used to hearing a different language. I’d never heard Spanish spoken before.
“However, I never felt more welcomed. In that unfamiliar place, my new teammates accepted me and helped me find my way around. The coaches encouraged us to welcome each other and treat new members as family, and every day at practice, the older and younger kids greeted me with a handshake. It’s a little thing, maybe, but those handshakes made me feel at home.The kids cared about me and always looked out for me. Overall, Texas was a much more welcoming and loving environment than Kentucky. Maybe it was just because it was near a bigger city, or maybe it was just the people who I happened to meet, but I also attribute this to the respect and friendliness of a predominantly Hispanic culture. Whatever the reason, beyond my small Kentucky town, I found a very accepting and friendly society and one I loved being a part of.
“My next move, to Shattuck-St. Mary’s, opened my eyes to even more cultures from around the world. I have become friends with people from Asia all the way to South America. At Shattuck St. Mary’s, classes are filled with people from all over the world with a wide range of religions and ideas on various topics. I have started to see things differently because I have been exposed to these different cultures and beliefs. Had I not played soccer, I don’t know that I would have had a chance to experience this diversity. Soccer has brought me to these places and changed the way I view my world.
“If I could leave you all with one message, it would be this: appreciate people’s differences and explore other cultures. Don’t judge someone just because they are different than you. If you are open-minded enough to learn about others, you will better understand the world and your place in it. From my personal experience, being the outsider is never easy. But when those around you work to help you feel welcome, it makes a world of difference. Thank you.”