2013 Salutatorian Jessica Lind - Graduation Speech

Guest post by the Waldwick High School 2013 Salutatorian, Jessica Lind.   Jessica will be attending University of Connecticut in the fall.  She will be majoring in Biology, on a pre-med Track. 

Welcome. I would first like to take this moment to give a special thanks to Dr. Raupers, members of the board of education, Mr. Carroll, Mr. Clancy, honored guests, parents, family, and friends for being here on this special occasion. On behalf of the class of 2013 I would like to thank you for everything that you have done for us over the past four years. I would also like to thank my family, especially my parents, who have raised me to be the person that I am today and who have been by my side throughout this entire journey.
         For as long as  I can remember, my mom and I have bonded over the television show Gilmore Girls and one of our favorite episodes is when the main character, Rory graduates high school and has to give a speech. My mom and I have always joked around saying that if I ever had to give a speech at graduation all I needed to do was copy exactly what Rory said and I’d be done, not thinking that one day it would actually happen. But it has, and obviously I had to write a speech of my own. I wanted it to be personal but also relatable. So I started thinking about everything that I’ve been through this past year, and the first thing that popped into my head was the experience I had applying to college and this is what I came up with…
         Until now, the end of the school year has always evoked the same emotions. Excitement for the summer plans ahead, relief that there would be no more school work to do for a while and a hidden sense of comfort in the fact that in a few short months we would be back in the same classrooms with the same teachers and classmates that have become so familiar to us. But this year it was different. For many of us, this day couldn’t have come any sooner. We have been counting down the days until graduation and waiting for this moment since we entered high school as freshmen and for some even before then. But now that this day has actually arrived, the feelings are bittersweet. We know that it’s time to go and we’re all anxious to start the next phase of our lives. But it’s hard because it means saying goodbye to a school that has given us so much over the past years between friends who have supported us, teachers who have become our mentors and many other influential people who have helped guide our way. There have been many bumps along the way, but I believe that Waldwick High School has prepared us well and every single person here today has a bright future ahead of them whatever that may be.
         For me, college is the next step. For many people, the hardest and most stressful part of senior year is applying for college, and for me this was no exception. I had been thinking about college and envisioning where I could see myself going for many years prior. So when the time came to narrow down my choices to just a few, I found myself choosing a lot of schools with big names but very low admission rates and sure enough, when April swung around and decisions were released, the results were not quite what I expected. At first, I was upset, feeling that somehow I had failed. But as time went by I started to learn a lot from this experience.
         In life there are going to be many bumps along the way; there are going to be setbacks and disappointments and we are all going to fail at times. But that’s just a part of life and every failure is really just a blessing in disguise with an even bigger lesson to be learned from it. When people are afraid to fail, it holds them back from trying. Life is an open book and you never know what is going to happen next and you never will unless you make an attempt. I realized that it doesn’t matter where you go in life, what matters is what you do when you get there. It’s the choices that we make and the opportunities that we take advantage of that will dictate our futures. So I say reach for the stars. Even if something seems completely out of reach go for it anyway because you never know what could happen.
          Initially, when I received my admission decisions from some of my top schools, I felt like giving up because everything that I had done to that point seemed worthless. But I realized that if I gave up then, I would be giving up a part of myself. I like to aim high and I plan on continuing to aim high in the future and I encourage everyone to do the same. If you really want to do something, just do it even if the risk of failing far outweighs the chances of success. Life is about making mistakes and now is the time to make them.
         I thought that not getting into my top schools was the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t. If I had gotten into those schools I may have chosen to go to one of them just for the sake of its name and prestige and not for any other reason. If I had done so I would have been making a huge mistake. For the longest time, I thought I knew exactly where I needed to be after high school and the type of school I needed to go to. But then my plans suddenly changed and the only options that were left for me didn’t seem good enough.  However, when I got the opportunity to go and visit the schools I did get into, I was pleasantly surprised and there was one school in particular that when I stepped onto campus it just felt right. It’s funny because life has a way of giving you what you need and what you want even if you don’t realize it at first. So if your plans fall short of what you expected, don’t be discouraged because it could mean that there is something better out there waiting for you.
         These past four years have flown by and I know it’s time to go but I will never forget my years here at Waldwick High School. We have always said that one of the greatest advantages to having a small school is that everyone knows one another and even though we’ve had our ups and downs, at the end of the day we are always there for each other and we rally together when it matters most. I am so grateful to have been a part of this school and I wish everyone the best of luck in the future. Congratulations Class of 2013. Thank you.