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Hi everyone. It is an honor for me to stand here and deliver this speech.

A few weeks ago, when I was announced salutatorian by Mr. Fayroian, I heard people asking, “Who is that? Who is that?” Actually, I wasn’t surprised to hear that at all, really. I know that many of you here probably didn't even know of my existence until today. To those who don’t know me well, I probably am just another Chinese girl who seems to fit perfectly with the Asian stereotype of a perfect student or maybe even a nerd. But, surprise, I don’t always study. Instead, I, too procrastinate really hard just like you. And when that happens, which is pretty often, I’m probably YouTubing, Twittering or Facebooking.

Many of you here might have worked really hard the past four, three, two, or one years because you want to live up to your parents’ expectations, your teachers’ expectations. That is indeed not a bad thing at all, but I believe the essence of life is being oneself. Our lives are filled up with decisions, whether it’s choosing the topping for a frozen yogurt or choosing which school you want to attend for the next four years. Ever since the first day we were born, we learned through past experiences about how to make “good” decisions. But what really is the definition of a good decision? Everyone of us will most likely have a distinct answer. After all, decisions are not always easy to make, especially when you are aware of opposing opinions.

At the end of sophomore year, I made one of the most pivotal decisions in my life, and obviously I did not know that back then. That year, I thought of taking AP Drawing in my junior fall but I did not know a lot about that particular course. As a result, I went to my advisor and many of my friends for advice. The typical feedback was that, AP Drawing equals a lot of work plus pressure, and I should only take it if I really really love art. My parents also suggested me to take drawing classes preferably during summer vacation. So if I deciphered all those conversations correctly; that was a solid “No,” and there could be better ways to spend my junior fall. I truly appreciated all the honest advise, and had many hesitations. But when I asked myself if I want to take AP Drawing, the answer was, “Yes.” So despite all the opposing opinions, I decided to go with my own heart. I convinced myself, if I don’t do it, I probably will never find out if art is what I want to pursue, but if I at least attend this course, I’ll have a 50 percent of chance to end up liking it. Though, the direct consequence of my decision was that I had to literally spend four hours a day, six days a week, down in the art studio, but, after all the hard work was over, I can proudly say that “Yes! I do really love art!”

I still remember, my classmate and I kindly renamed this class AP Torturing, because there was never a definite answer of how to improve your art work. The only thing we could do was to take in advice and just go ahead and try all the options. Sometimes you get it right with the first shot, and sometimes it just simply turns down your expectations. And I guess our lives are very much like that! When we are forced to constantly make decisions, we don’t always make the best ones. However, we should never be afraid of doing so, because you will never know what’s waiting for you unless you decide to take a step forward. Made a bad decision? No problem! I do that and everyone does that. Or just think about it this way; good things exist only because there also exists the so-called “bad things.” When your decisions happen to carry less-than-desirable consequences, don’t stop your steps and try to fix it, but instead, take more decisions to bring yourself back on to the right track. Most importantly, you should also have the responsibility to carry the consequences that come along with your decisions no matter if they are considered good or less fortunate.

Our life is so short that we won’t be able to do everything that others expect us to do. Then why don’t we simply listen to our own voice, and follow what we truly desire? I’m standing here because I made decisions to give up something in order to gain others. And, yes, I guess I’m considered academically strong. But, in fact, am I necessarily a better person than any of you? Of course not. Every single one of you also has qualities just as valuable!

When I pass the green room, I see elegant dancers taking turns. When I sit in the Chiles Theater, I see emphatic actors and actresses carrying out convincing lines. When I attend the annual Sacred Concert on the other campus, I hear the expressive voice from our singers. When I walk around the art gallery, I see creative and intriguing pieces made by our young artists. When I stand by the track, I see enthusiastic sprinters finishing their races with incredible speed. When I read the latest issues of The Hermonite and The Bridge, I discover eloquent writers who deliver vivid stories. When I sign in after study hall, I see resident leaders making pancakes for the hungry little beasts in the lounge.

Yes, during my three years at NMH, what I happen to see every day were just incredibly talented people! You are all amazingly special individuals! And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE carry your uniqueness with you wherever you go for college. Always make your own decisions, and simply be yourself. I will miss seeing all of your faces on campus. Farewell, incredible class of 2015!

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