Some are very ill, others are teen parents, a few are bound for the Ivy League, a handful dropped out — but didn’t give up and now are successful after a second, bolder try at school.
They are the Class of 2015. There is no way most people can make it to hear all the graduations from the Valley’s dozens of high schools. Today we have collected an assortment of excerpts from their commencement speeches, which gives us a window into the world of the Valley’s optimistic young adults.
A life worth living
I would like to share a quick story that directly relates to our graduating class.
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It is a story about Albert Einstein traveling on a train. When the conductor came by to punch his ticket, he noticed Einstein searching everywhere for it; in his jacket, his trousers and in his briefcase, but the ticket could not be found.
The conductor said, “Albert Einstein, do not worry. I know who you are. We all know who you are. I am sure you bought a ticket.”
The conductor proceeded to the next car. He looked back, and he saw Einstein still frantically on the ground searching for his ticket. The conductor returned, assuring Einstein that he knows who he is and that he does not need a ticket.
Einstein replied, “Conductor, I, too, know who I am, what I do not know is where I am going.”
Although many of us do not know who we may become, what we will be doing or where we will be going, I hope that we may take refuge in who we are, because our identity is worth so much more than the tracks ahead. May we go and continue to live a life worth living.
Caydon Swobe, Central High School
“Let there be light.” As California natives, we’ve been hearing the University of California motto all throughout school.
In contrast, it’s also been said that sunshine all the time makes a desert. This may be true, but something about the light makes me want to believe in something more. And I think we should all believe in something more.
So while I beckon you to shine your light into a world that we are about to rediscover, I also ask you to not fear the dark. Never fear — because not all things that go bump in the night are scary. Go explore — see what you find, and see what finds you.
Ariana Marmolejo, Bullard High School
Courage keeps us safe
Those of us joining the armed forces, know your courage keeps us safe. To my classmates going to work or volunteering your time, know your passion makes people’s lives better. For those of us going to school, know your dedication will shape the future.
Gus Krider, Bullard
Waiting for your failure
I came to Cambridge in September with 120 credits as a senior. The requirement to graduate is 230 credits. I started Cambridge knowing I was extremely behind, thinking that I would not be able to walk with my class. That the furthest I would get is my G.E.D.
I wasn’t the only one who believed that. I had so many doubters, like I know you guys did also because we once made bad choices. But then again, who hasn’t? It was either a bad choice or a life event that caused us to fall behind.
So many people are waiting for your failure, and you start to wonder who is waiting for your victory.
I remember the day that it all came to me. Were all the bad choices I made worth it? I knew that deep down I could accomplish great things once I put my mind to it.
Abigail Flores, Cambridge Continuation High School
Losing my dad
The past three years of my high school career, I’ve attended four different high schools, with Cambridge being my fifth.
This was due to my family constantly moving around in the Midwest after the death of my father. Losing my dad also caused me to spin in a downward spiral, and I began surrounding myself with bad influences.
Feeling stuck in a life of procrastination, I soon found myself in vulnerable positions. Three schools told me there was no way I’d graduate on time.
I felt hopeless. I felt like every school I attended before Cambridge did not have the tools, or the staff to help me succeed. Cambridge really helped pave the road that led me to where I am today.
I was told the day upon enrollment, that I can graduate on time. That right there was enough to motivate me.
Sara Vang, Cambridge
Coping with epilepsy
In my 18 years, I have faced obstacles beyond my understanding. At 16, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I was no longer allowed to play sports and they could not find medications for me. My mom withdrew me from school, and we found Ambassador Sanchez High School. In the beginning, I hated it, because I went from being this very social person very involved in school to this very shy girl. But as months passed, I knew that this was my new school and this is where I belonged. I started to enjoy it. Without this school I wouldn’t be the mature, hard-working person who was taught by her teachers and counselors to never give up and for that I will be forever grateful.
Ivana Valdovinos, Ambassador Phillip V. Sanchez Public Charter High School
I was unstoppable
In 2013, I had to drop out of high school because of personal circumstances. I found myself in and out of schools and programs. I was very unhappy. I was finding it hard to move forward and succeed in these schools.
But I would not let failure overtake me. I knew something had to change.
I found Ambassador Sanchez by accident. I was walking by and noticed myself in the reflective glass. Yes, I was checking myself out. I opened the doors to find out what was inside and discovered it was an independent study program. At that point, I knew I wanted to enroll. Once I started, I was unstoppable. After graduation, I plan on attending Fresno City College and transferring to medical school. My interest is working with children in pediatrics. My personality and my determination will help me succeed and make life better for sick children.
Devantae Moore, Sanchez
I dare you
Dale Carnegie said, “The person who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare!”
Dare to be all that you can be. Dare to chase your chosen career. Dare to excel. Dare to go the extra mile. Dare to show compassion. Dare to make your mark in the world. Dare to have empathy. Dare to be the best you can be and then do it!
Overly simplistic? Probably. Within our reach? Defnitely!”
Priscilla Segundo, Crescent View Charter High School
Her interest inspired me
When I first came to Crescent View South, I was really behind in my education. I had no plans and I was about to give up. Enrolling changed my life.
A quote by Christian D. Larson reminds me of what Mrs. Reyna would always tell me when I was frustrated because I couldn’t pass an exam. “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you greater than any obstacle.”
Her interest in my education is what inspired me to devote more time and care into my studies. There are many reasons why students here chose to attend Crescent View. Some are very similar to mine, which was because we were behind on credits, didn’t have time for regular school or simply wanted to graduate on time. Most of us stayed because we truly enjoyed the relaxed environment and the feeling of being treated as a productive member of society.
Alejandra A. Sanchez, Crescent View South
As I look back on my last 13 years of school, I realize that not only did I learn and grow in a scholastic, school-driven sense, but, like many of my fellow graduates, I was able to learn and grow to discover who I am as an individual.
Rachel Buchanan, Clovis Online
Reach for it
We are the next generation, and the work we do will influence the world. The possibilities are endless. Our experiences here at Clovis High have shaped us into who we are, what we will be, and what we will do in life. We can’t wait for what tomorrow has in store. Reach for it.
Preston Mott, Clovis High School
Nowhere to sleep
There have been a lot of days where I was struggling with knowing where I would sleep that evening because of my poor choices and the state of mind I was in.
I did not even notice how many good and caring people were around me trying to help me out. Those were the people who believed in me and never gave up on me. Today, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to say, “Thank you!”
Tatiana Moiseychik, Gateway High School, Clovis
We’re not regular
A high school diploma is a wonderful accomplishment, but we’re not regular high school students.
I want everyone to know that every single one of the graduates here is graduating with college units ranging from 20-60.
A small number of our fifth-year seniors and a few fourth-year seniors are also receiving an associate’s degree. That is a major accomplishment. We all should be proud of ourselves.
Jenny Mai, Design Science High School
Make everyone happy, proud
From this day on, let’s stay strong and make each decision with our best interests in mind. Believe in ourselves so we can reach our goals and fulfill our American dream. Make everyone around us happy and proud. We have already taken the first step by making it to this ceremony today, so don’t stop right here.
Bob Cha, McLane
Diploma as a compass
Let your diploma be your compass as you journey forward.
Let’s always keep it where we can see it, years from now, to remind us in dark times that we were winners once, and that we can be winners yet again.
Byanca Layva, McLane
One day at a time
I never thought I’d see the day that I would be crossing the stage to get my diploma. Starting early in life, many problems began to get in the way. I’m very proud of myself and how far I’ve come.
I’ve learned that it’s easier to take life one day at a time. It helps me not to get overwhelmed. Sometimes if you focus on the big picture, it seems too big to take on.
A special thank you to my grandma who raised me and encouraged me to become the woman I am today.
Valerie Dow, Central Unified School District Central Learning Adult School Site (CLASS program)
After having my baby
Getting through high school was a challenge for me, especially after having my baby because many obstacles were in my way.
I’m proud to say I have made it through high school early. I have accomplished what I feared I would never be able to do!
My next step in life is to become a nurse. The best advice I can give anyone is keep moving forward toward your dreams. Nothing is impossible! You can always have the strength to go forward if you stay determined.
Veronica Marmolejo, Central CLASS
It’s not just about us
We are gathered together today to honor a great achievement in our young lives; however, this night is not merely about us, it is just as much about all the people around us who have supported, taught, encouraged, helped, and mentored us. We would not be here tonight if it was not for your care and interest in us.
Nathan Dondlinger, Fowler High School
People believe in you
Just remember that so many people believe in you and have invested so much in helping you succeed. Now it is up to you to take advantage of what they have given you.
Rainder Johal, Fowler
Make world better
From this point forward, we decide our paths, each leading in a different direction. Let us seize this new beginning and help make the world a better place.
Jagjot Sandhu, Fowler
Change one life
It is visiting your grandparents when you’re free, helping a friend study for a test, or even helping your teachers organize their workload that makes the greatest difference in the world.
The reality is that the majority of us will go unnoticed, but it is the way that we change one person’s life at a time that makes the difference. It doesn’t take the whole world to know who we are but rather a single person that makes us who we are.
Karina Garcia, Kerman High School
From this point on, from the moment you step off the stage, you are walking into uncharted territory. You are your own dictator. There are no rules. There are no curfews, only opportunities.
Desiree Dimmick, Kerman
School is not just the sum of its parts; it is the combination of a caring community, parents, teachers, administrators and students that creates such a wonderful environment that we all have had the privilege of enjoying.
Jose Alcantar Chavez, Kerman