Commencement Speech

Hello everyone,

As many of you know, my name is Sydney Pham, and I am a graduating senior of the class of 2016. As I stand here today, alongside my fellow peers and in front of this respected audience,I feel very honored yet a little confused as to why I was selected to give the speech. Oftentimes theses speeches are full of insightful life advice, optimism for the future, and whatnot.

When I try and rack my brain to come up with some of that, I only realize that I’m as insightful than the rest of you, seeing as we’re all only now graduating high school. These speeches seem to be a place where you pretend to know more than what you actually do. And while I could try to do that, I guess all I can really do today is to advocate for a few things that I think truly matter in life.

We come from a sizable high school that offers so many different activities, such as a state-qualifying athletics department, an outstanding theater and arts program, incredible audio/tech area, UIL academic events, and so much more. With all of these extracurriculars alongside strong academic classes, I truly believe that Consol students are offered with enough to equip them for success in life. However, Consol offers so many things that it is impossible to do everything, leaving students to just choose a couple. We excel in the areas we choose, form close friendships with those of similar interests, and find a “home” within these activities.

While we embark on a new chapter of our lives, away from high school, we must recognize that these activities, these friendships, these old “homes” we’re leaving will always have a special place in our hearts, but we must not be afraid to try new things. Though change and trying new things can be scary, the world offers too many opportunities and curveballs for us not to explore. Though leaving one home is intimidating, it is worth it to adventure and find another comfort place.

With that said, don’t just wait for opportunities to come to you, go out and find them. Key to this is to remember to not be afraid of failure. One summer I traveled to the Ford Rouge Factory in Ohio; this trip changed me a surprising amount. Ford is such a commonly seen car line on the streets–one that I never gave much thought to before this trip. Learning about Henry Ford’s history and endeavors to create the popular American car line was inspiring, but one thing that stuck out to me the most was his quote “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Since then this quote has become more meaningful to me as I’ve thought about it more and more. It’s such a simple yet powerful quote that continues to hold truth with each day. Our minds are such a powerful influence on our actions and what we believe we can achieve, deeming a confident or positive attitude so important. (All those posters in teachers’ classrooms about having a positive attitude really do hold truth!)

So with every new opportunity that you seek or are approached with, take it on with a positive attitude. Continue to believe in yourself and find new ways to make yourself a better person. You don’t have to create a booming car business like Henry Ford to make a difference. Search for opportunities to advance your own life, and approach these experiences with a positive attitude because more often than not, you are capable of a lot more than what you may believe.

We’ve all learned a lot in high school, and I believe we all love when something, or someone, new and exciting becomes a part of our life. Don’t sit and wait for those new adventures to come to you; instead, strive to always discover new things that make you happy–life is too short to live any other way.


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