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.
“My best friend is a 54-year-old man. I know it sounds weird, but he’s my dad, so don’t worry. He’s the person that can make me laugh my lungs out one second, and make me fear for my life the next. We talk on the phone almost every day. If I’m having a bad day, he’s the only one that can cheer me up. If I’m having a good day, I can’t wait to tell him about it. He’s the smartest man I know. I could ask him anything, and he always has the right answer, except the one time when I really rubbed it in his face that I knew more American Presidents than he did. Shoutout to you, Mrs. Bailey.
“Have you ever seen the movie Forrest Gump? If not, you should. If you have, you know that Forrest’s life is incredible and even a little unreal. I often compare my dad’s life with Forrest’s. They are very different people, but what’s happened in both of their lives is insane.
“My dad lived in Liberia, Africa until he was five years old. As an infant, he was at the beach and got swept up by a wave. He was underwater for more than a minute, but when he got rescued, he was fine. A few years later, he accidentally sat on a poisonous scorpion. That was apparently normal if you lived in Africa back then.
“A few years later my dad started a small company in communication infrastructure. By 2014 it had grown bigger; he has offices in England, Germany, Norway, and here in the U.S. The company grew so big it went public into the Nasdaq.
“At the age of fifteen he left home because his dad, my granddad, was an alcoholic. This tore my dad’s family apart, and he couldn’t stay in that environment, especially when he was both studying full-time and running a company. He was only fifteen- when I was fifteen, my biggest accomplishment was getting to school on time.
“After high school, he went on and got two master’s degrees while still running his company and also serving in the Navy. I don’t know how he had time for all of this, but apparently a day in Sweden is longer than 24 hours.
“Last winter when I got home for break, I asked him, ‘What have I missed?’ He answered, “Eh, nothing really. Work is going well, the house is almost done, I apparently had a heart attack without knowing about it, and our neighbor’s cat got hit with fireworks. It was pretty cool.” That’s how my dad is. A heart attack wasn’t as interesting as a cat getting blown up. I wasn’t even surprised, so my reply was just ‘Oh, cool, did they get a new cat?’
“My point is that my father’s life story is incredible, and I aspire to be like him. He’s my best friend and he always has my back like I have his. I hope that one day I can repay him for everything he has ever done for, and given to me.
“Last year, Sweden passed a new law. Anyone turning eighteen had to register with the military. About 2,000 people would be selected for physical and academic testing to qualify to get an education in the military. I turned eighteen last year, and I had to register. Somehow I got selected, and now I have to go back to Sweden to see if I qualify. Being in the military was not a part of my life plan, but when I found out that I got selected, I thought it would be good for future references and also I could make my dad proud to follow in his footsteps. When I told him about me getting selected and that maybe I’d want to go into the Navy, his reply was ‘Nah, you’re not good enough.’ I’m not sure if he was joking, but now I hope I get the chance to rub his face in that, too, just like I did by knowing the U.S. Presidents.
“Pappa; tack för allt, jag älskar dig. Thank you.”