Alisal High School: 2015 Baccalaureate Speech

Alisal High School Baccalaureate Speech                                                                                       26 May 2015

As you know, God did not make us all the same. Some people are short, some people are tall, some are quick, and others slow, some are smart and so on. God also did not put us in the same situations, under the same circumstances. Some people are poor, others rich. Some people sleep on sidewalks, while others sleep on beds. Some people have enough to eat; others don’t. Now, these things may seem obvious to you. After all, we come across these images every day. But what may not be obvious to you is this: God made us all the same in one aspect. God has given everybody, including each of you in this church, the opportunity to make the most of our situations and our circumstances, and if you look closely and without judgement, you will see this all around you. In fact, many of you, by being here right now, are in the midst of making the most out of your own situations. You’ve earned the right to be here. Others in this room may be only just realizing their potential, and some of you might be a little lost, but whatever the case may be, you have a major challenge ahead of you,  and it will continue to be your biggest challenge as you blaze through life. Your challenge is to find success by making the most out of your situations and circumstances!

Your parents are living proof of this model of success! You know where your parents have come from; you know what they’ve gone through and home much they’ve suffered. And now their sons and daughters are about to graduate from high school! This accomplishment, to your parents, is one example of their success, and so I congratulate all your parents! Felicidades a todos los padres! As for me, I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m successful. I know I am, and I will continue to be the only person to whom I have to prove this. Only we, ourselves, can be the judges of our success, because only we know if we have truly done our best to be successful.

I remember going to the market with my mom when I was a kid, and I remember my mom paying for our groceries with the colored food stamps we received from the government. I will never forget this. I also remember, at the age of seven, dragging home a metal trashcan filled with tortillas that our neighbor left behind when he moved. He was a tortillero, and the packets were leftovers. It was exciting to find those tortillas because I knew my mom would be happy, and she was. But even at seven-years-old, I had an idea that my life could be better. I intended to make the most of my circumstances. And now I find myself here with you, in this church, speaking to Alisal High School’s newest graduates, and I wouldn’t’ want to be anywhere else right now. To me, this is success. I don’t care if it isn’t to anyone else.

Now, if what I say about success is true, then the opposite must be true, too, and it is this: you will not find success if you do not make the most of your situations. In my ten years at Alisal, I’ve seen many students squander what they have. Many of these students were born in the United States, they speak English, they can get jobs, and they don’t have to worry about being separated from their families. In short, they possess the very things that many other students at Alisal wish they had. And yet these students with these great opportunities waste them. They don’t graduate or they get horrible grades and they don’t care for learning. And then I see Jaime and Maria and Martha, hard working students, and I know that they would die to have what these kids are wasting away. Sometimes life isn’t fair, though. So do yourselves a favor and go out and find your personal success by making the most of what you have been given. In doing so, you will suffer a great deal, as your parents have, and you will make many mistakes, as your parents have. There is no doubt about it. But you must make mistakes, many mistakes, and you must suffer, sometimes immensely, because only then will you be able to enjoy the fruit and beautiful memories that your suffering will produce for you. Congratulations, Class of 2015, and thank you for this honor. I love you, guys! Be safe! Go, Trojans!

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