Michaiah Shai-An Young is valedictorian of her graduating class at Mercy Vocational High School in Philadelphia.
She has achieved first honors for every marking period since she began her Freshman year at Mercy Vocational.
Michaiah was identified as a Mayor's Very Impressive Performer (VIP) during her freshman and senior years. She is also a recipient of the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship.
Michaiah will attend Chestnut Hill College following high school. She is interested in pursuing a law career.
Good morning and thank you Ms. Glatts for that warm welcome.
I would like to begin by thanking the Lord, because without Him, nothing is possible! I’d like to thank Father Thorne and Holy Innocents for allowing us to hold this momentous occasion in their beautiful church. To the esteemed guests, faculty, staff, friends, and family, thank you all for joining us today for our graduation and commencement ceremony. And to the class of 2013, I’d like to say thank you and congratulations, it was a pleasure getting to know each and every one of you over the past 4 years, and I hope to maintain that connection for the rest of lives.
When I learned that I would be the Valedictorian, I was overwhelmed with many emotions. I was honored to be chosen to represent so many incredible people. I was sad, because I realized that my time in this amazing school was ending. And I was ecstatic because obtaining this honor, has always been a dream of mine. But most of all, I was worried—worried about what I was going to write and if it would be good enough for all of you.
So, like many do, I began researching past valediction speeches to get some ideas. There were over a thousand to choose from with many having your typical cliché’s like “These are our glory days” or “We are the leaders of tomorrow.” But as I read on, I realized that I would not be able to get MY speech from this material. Not because it wasn’t good enough, but because it wasn’t our story to tell. I realized that the key to my speech, was my peers, my class, the people that I have spent the last 4 years of my life growing with and the moments and events that took place for us to get here.
Moments and events like dissecting frogs in biology or watching countless black and white movies in history. Studying 5 minutes before a test and praying that we all pass. Making up catchy sing-a-longs and awesome handshakes to share going down the hall. Stepping foot in shop for the first time thinking “oh man, what did I get myself into?” Or getting our rings in this same building last year, and having something to finally be proud of. Or dressing up like pirates and going to the renaissance fair. And sailing the deep blue sea on our senior trip. Lastly, and most importantly, coming together to win spirit day in an exciting game of dodge ball. It was these moments and events that we shared that helped us step out of our comfort zone and become better people so these were the moments I knew would make my speech.
Four years ago we stepped through the doors of Mercy Vocational High School, scared and doubtful freshmen. We were quite skeptical and very reserved. We had come from all over the city, with backgrounds as diverse as any. And whether we were ready or not, we were about to embark on the biggest journey of our lives.
We were quickly told by the upper classmen that these four years would fly by so to make the most of them. And standing there as freshmen, we paid them no mind because we thought we had the answer. But as we look back now, we know exactly what they were talking about. As time approached and college started calling, we soon realized that we had run out of comfort years. And that it was time again, for us to step out and begin a new journey.
Like any other Catholic high school, over the past four years, we’ve learned everything from the square root of 1000 in its radical form to who conquered Rome in the 1500’s. We’ve read, studied and taken so many notes we thought that our fingers would fall off a few times. We were quizzed and tested. We had too much homework some nights and assignments we thought about being over just as quick as we got them.
But the one thing that separates us from every other high school in Philadelphia is the fact that not only do we graduate with a great Catholic education and a high school diploma, but we also graduate with certifications in our chosen field. Whether that field is business or culinary arts, nursing or cosmetology, computer tech, carpentry or electricity, we are set apart from other High School students because we have been taught by the best and introduced to the real world.
We graduate knowing exactly what we want to do, and what steps we need to take to get there. We were taught valuable lessons in service that we will never forget. We learned to feed the hungry and give to the poor, to visit the sick and cloth the naked. We were taught to do the right thing no matter what or who is looking. And although we know that struggles do lie ahead, we were taught that every day that we wake up, we have a chance to make our dreams come true.
Bill Cosby once said, “I don’t know the key to success but I know the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” And I can relate to this quote just as many of you can. It is too often that we put aside what we want to please our parents, our friends, or even our teachers.
So as we gather here today for one last time as the class of 2013, I leave you all with this, today is our day, and the decisions that we make from this moment forward, is what will make us. So whether you are down and out or living on top of the world, never stop fighting, stop loving, or stop living.
Whatever your degree is in, and whatever your talent is, do something with it! Be somebody, make something of yourself, so that in 50 years when we look back at our lives, we’ll be able to say, that we lived. We were here, that our presence was known. And that we made this world a better place.
With that said, congratulations everyone, we did it!!!!! Now let’s turn this farewell into a “see you later” for when we are organizing a new movement and changing this world!