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.
“As we go on with our lives, there are so many things to be thankful for. Yes, we should be thankful to our parents for all the sacrifices they have made for us, we can never express enough gratitude, and we will always be indebted to them all throughout our lifetimes. No offense, but we’ve all heard this said before. So, let me try to introduce something new.
“Here’s something no one thinks to be thankful for until we desperately need it: A second chance. If I had to describe the most influential thing in my life in two words, it would be second chances. Have you ever wondered how weird it is that second chances are always second chances, no matter how many of these chances one has received? Second chances are so important that there are whole religions that believe the big guy above, being the merciful creator he is, gives everyone a second chance to be born again. My point is this: we should never take second chances for granted, and we should be grateful for every single one we are given.
“If you know me, you know that I am only here thanks to second chances. One, in particular, was especially important. I used to attend a different boarding school, but I was asked to leave during my sophomore year. I frantically looked for another boarding school that would let me continue my studies in the States. I applied to twenty different boarding schools, and even though my previous school was very prestigious, I was only met with rejection. No one offered me, a “problematic student,” a place. My carefully planned life was falling apart.
“Despite the despair I felt, I applied to yet five more schools. That was when Shattuck-St. Mary’s School offered me the second chance that I was desperately hoping for. This second chance not only gave me an opportunity to continue my studies in the U.S., but changed my life entirely. It woke me from my desperate attitude. I changed my life goal of making money as a successful engineer to one focused on helping others as a dentist. I have been, and still am pursuing this goal. I flew over to Nepal two weeks after the earthquake in 2015 as a part of an emergency relief team. Every year for five years, I have been visiting Jordan with a medical volunteer group from an NGO that helps Syrian refugees. My passion for this work was sparked by the second chance that I received at Shattuck, and I plan to continue this work for the rest of my life. My second chance made me the obviously imperfect but sincerely striving person I am now. And today, with only 239 days left until graduation, I finally get the chance to publicly thank this School for that second chance.
“Let me wrap this up. Many of you might not know that I have also been diagnosed with severe depression. To balance that, I always try to think of things to be grateful for. Yes, that includes my parents. But I’ve also found that I am especially thankful for all the second chances I received. I know this is only the fifth week of school and there are many more senior speeches to go until graduation. Most of you probably won’t remember much about this one. I can only hope that, when everything in your life seems to be falling apart and you lose all motivation, you will think of a time when you were offered a second chance, and you will show your appreciation for it by giving back to those who need second chances of their own.”