Commencement ceremonies have been taking place at schools in the Diocese of Camden, with valedictorians and salutatorians giving speeches to their classmates, family, school community and guests as they end their high school career. Following is a slightly abridged excerpt from valedictorian Christina G. Dalzell’s speech at the graduation ceremonies of Holy Spirit High School, Absecon, on June 1.
I was hesitant to ask for help in writing this speech from my family and teachers because I truly wanted it to be personal for us. I finally realized last week that I needed God’s help, so I prayed, like many of us have prayed together as classmates before tests and games over the past four years. I asked God for help, and incredibly, he sent me three people who helped me in different ways.
The first person I ran into was an elementary school teacher I hadn’t seen since eighth grade graduation. She welcomed me and gave me the courage to start at a new school. Next year, we will all need this courage to take a leap of faith and embark on the next chapter of our lives, whether it is at college, in the military, or in the workforce.
The following day, I bumped into a friend’s father. This friend also helped me navigate through a hard time in my life. She believed me when no one else did and stood up for me when everyone else shied away. She represented loyalty and faith. If you do not remember anything else from my speech, remember this – the worst thing in life that you can be is a bystander. Do not spend your life following other people; stand up for what you believe. Do not spend time waiting for the ball or waiting for the job offer; make it happen. Do not allow others to tell you that you are crazy and that you will never achieve anything; do it anyway.
The third person I met represented the future. While at a volunteer orientation at Shore Medical this past week, I was sitting in front of a girl who graduated from Holy Spirit a couple of years ago, and who is now studying to be a doctor. At that point, I was still struggling to write this speech. This girl, who I had never met before, gave me hope. She gave me hope that someday I will be in her position, following my dream of becoming a doctor. She also represents the belief we must have in ourselves to find our purpose in life. We, the class of 2014, cannot be afraid of our future….
Now, you can call these encounters angels from God, or pure coincidences, or you can just call me crazy. There is a little truth to all three. The truth is that we are all a little crazy. It’s what makes life interesting and exciting. In the future, do not hide your passions or your idiosyncrasies; rather, embrace them, because if you do, you are on the path toward happiness….
Christina G. Dalzell of Linwood will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall.