Senior Speeches: Felipe Fernandez-Salvador

March 26, 2018

The art of embracing change in one’s life.

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.

Felipe Fernandez-Salvador

Change. The thought of change frightens many people. But from my experience, I believe it shouldn’t. I was afraid of change many years back, before all the changes I experienced throughout my childhood. I guess I could sort these experiences of change into two categories: family and school. I believe my experiences of change in these areas have formed me positively to be the person I am today.

When I was born into my family in Guayaquil, Ecuador, my father who had recently graduated high school was 18, and my mother, who was in her sophomore year of college, was 21. This was a complicated situation for us, and my parents decided to divorce shortly after, when I was about two years old.

After this, I lived with my mom in my grandparents’ house. Of course, being so young, I wasn’t conscious of what was going on at this time. But now that I reflect on it 16 years later, I notice that this change was for the best. My grandmother took care of me while my mom was studying, which created a very special bond between us, and my grandfather became a role model who I still look up to, to this day.

When I was six, my mom and I moved to Florida. Here she met and married my step-father, who although wasn’t my biological father, raised me as a son of his own and molded me to be the man I am today. My parents’ divorce at first sight might seem like a negative change for me, but in my eyes it is something I am thankful for today.

Since moving to the U.S. in 2006, I have changed schools on four different occasions. Changing schools is a difficult thing at first. It means a new environment, with new classes and new teachers, but most importantly it means new friends. While this seemed a scary thing at first, I learned that a change of school wasn’t the end of the world. I realized that by changing schools, it forces you to become a more self-reliant person, because you are forced to adapt to new environments.

After six years in US, I moved back to Ecuador in 2012. There, I experienced the need to be independent and adaptive even more deeply. Apart from having no friends and knowing no one in the school, the classes there were taught completely in Spanish. I was out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t see it as a good thing at the time. But today I do. I made new friends with whom I am still friends today, and both my learning skills and my Spanish were improved noticeably.

I believe these changes in my life have allowed me to become the best possible version of myself. Aside from the changes themselves, I am very thankful for all the people who helped me embrace and make the most of them. I’d like to share a quote by the co-founder of the Huffington Post, Ariana Huffington, who says:

“In life, the things that go wrong are often the very things that lead to other things going right.”

Gracias Mami, gracias Nano, y gracias Abunor. Los amo.


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