Saurin's High School Graduation Speech
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About this Speech: I wrote this speech in the Spring of 1995 when I graduated from Alief Hastings High School as Salutatorian from a class size close to 800.

Mr. Engel, distinguished faculty, parents, family, and fellow graduates:

Many times one will take for granted those things which are not immediately useful, discovering only, all too late that he/she has mistakably and unfortunately lost that possession which will be essential later in his/her life.

A mother once told her son to travel to the village to purchase some grocery goods. The child, sent to fetch soup meat and a recipe for dinner, took his mother’s money and left for the hamlet. Upon arriving at the butcher shop, the son did his mother’s bidding, buying the soup meat and acquiring the recipe. However, on his journey homeward, a dog snatched the meat from his hand and bounded away. The son, thinking to himself that the meat would not be missed, continued onward. That evening the mother asked her son where the goods were; her son confidently replied that the meat had been stolen by a local dog, but that he still had the recipe.

This story clearly illustrates how people, striving to reach a goal, often think to themselves that if they lose part of their assets that they will still be able to realize their dreams, which, as the story depicts, is without much truth.

Tonight we all prepare to enter into a world full of mysteries and new experiences. What we must realize is that the education that we have received thus far will be a foundation upon which we will build our lives. We have been given the recipe and the majority of the ingredients, and the mixing and simmering is up to us. As Plato once remarked, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future,” our education shall also direct our lives.

Some of us will add carrots and onions, while some may be satisfied with the meat and the broth, but as we individually combine and stir, our stews will be dependent on ourselves, for the paths we choose now will directly relate to our future. Some of us will enlist in the armed services, either to further their education or to serve the public. It is essential for these graduates to remember that the garlic and parsley they add will have been greatly enhanced by the skills they learned during their last four years. This education does not merely consist of the knowledge found in books, but also of the subtleties gained through their various interactions, ranging from communication skills to problem-solving techniques.

Still others will add spice to their concoctions, utilizing the next few months to embark on adventures to learn the world. Though it be hitchhiking across the many lands of Europe, conducting a safari in the wild jungles of the East, or taming the savage Colorado, these graduates will soon find that their experiences obtained during high school are not for waste, but are a base upon which their recipe for life rests. Undoubtedly they will find themselves in situations where their experiences and education will prove crucial, allowing them to successfully handle their predicaments.

Then again many will discover their futures encompassed by work and/or college, structuring their new lives around their education. Naturally we must take into consideration that we are a generation at the focal point of time, leading the world into the 21st Century. The decisions that we will make, no matter how critical or trivial, shall have a deciding impact upon the societies and the lives of other people. We all know that new technologies often lead to new dilemmas for which unique solutions must be unearthed, and we they must be the ones to take the initiative to uncover and create these answers.

Also we must recall the myriad obstacles that once lay on our paths towards tonight, and how, in spite of the difficulty or ease of those deterrents, we overcame them. For example, I was at one time enrolled in a speech therapy class, and now I am giving a speech. Other people have done similar feets, whether it be academic, athletic, or personal, they have removed the barriers.

Often the greatest and most profound influences on our lives come not from the most obvious sources, but from those people whom we neglect to recognize for their contributions. Many of us, in our journey to obtain an education, have relied upon our family to help us overcome obstacles, providing unfaltering guidance. Just as bricks provide support for a building, our relatives and friends lend strength by which we further our educations. Later, when we begin our own families, we will discover that our experiences will encourage the construction of bridges that will close gaps between spouses and children, developing a stronger and more close-knit family, in which all its members will benefit.

However we must recognize that as the boy dismissed the importance of the meat and had to start his journey over, those who take education for granted will find themselves having to restart their climb to fulfillment from the bottom rung, for as Henry Adams advised: “All experience in an arch, to build upon.”

(C) Saurin Shah