Senior Speeches: Emma Kuhlman

December 11, 2017

“What will I change, what will I do, what will be my impact on life? Where will I fly to next?”

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.

Emma Kuhlman

“Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? I hadn’t until my mom told me about it not too long ago. It’s the theory that even the smallest step one takes in his or her life can change the course of life immensely. It has been said that something small as the flutter of butterfly wings can ultimately cause a typhoon. The accumulation of tiny actions can create big movements over time, kind of like a ripple effect. This theory made me think of butterflies in general and how beautiful they are. It also made me think about my own life and the small everyday actions I have taken that have built over time to make me the person I am today.

“My family and I have a lake house, and when I was little, my sister and I would find the monarch caterpillars on the milkweed and put them in jars to keep as pets. We would experience the cycle of the caterpillar and how it became a big beautiful butterfly. Once it was a butterfly, we would let it go. Then I compared the butterfly’s life cycle to my own life.  I thought about the four different stages of a caterpillar’s life: the egg, the caterpillar, the cocoon, and then finally the butterfly. While I was in the “egg” stage I was protected and safe. My parents were always there for me every day when I lived at home in Grand Forks. I felt sheltered from the big world and what it had to offer good and bad. During the early stages of growing up, I felt vulnerable and had many anxieties about growing up. My parents were always there for me and teaching me the basics of survival. During this early stage, you are so dependent on everyone around you, which can be confusing and frustrating, but also loving and very safe. When you hatch from this you begin to open your eyes and discover so many opportunities you’ve been given.

“The caterpillar stage reminds me of my childhood and the book I always read, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,”  where he eats everything trying to find the perfect spot to spin his cocoon. Like him, I was searching, too, and for me, this school was the perfect spot. Shattuck has been the cocoon stage for me. Where I have been in a safe, beautiful place growing and changing and transforming into the person I am today. We are now about to break out of that cocoon and all of us will fly off after graduation.

“Once I am a butterfly I will remain with my individual beauty that will always stay with me both inside and out. As I go out and begin to migrate and discover new places I will need to learn to be independent and depend on the resources and the people around me. I will take what I’ve learned throughout my life as I experience new things in the world and use them to my advantage. Have you ever seen a butterfly migration? It’s very fascinating and beautiful but this is the movement that can cause a typhoon. It can’t actually cause a typhoon or a huge storm but on the radar it looks like the butterflies are a huge storm. its little flutters are causing a big situation and causing everyone to be in a panic. When I go off into the world I will use a great number of life lessons I have learned which will help me throughout my life that’s ahead of me. I ask myself, what will I change, what will I do, what will be my impact on life? Where will I fly to next?”

  • News Image