Valedictory – York Prep Graduation 2014

[Valedictorian Deianni Nia Galloway delivered the following speech at the York Prep Commencement Ceremony on May 21, 2014.]

I am honored to stand before you all today and speak on behalf of the class of two thousand fourteen. I am sure everyone is aware of the extraordinary talent this class possesses.

It’s amazing to think that four eventful years culminate into this single moment. This ceremony reminds us of the journey we’ve traveled, of the experiences we’ve shared, and of the memories we’ve created.It seems so long ago, but we were once anxious freshman, unsure of what to expect from high school. At times, all of us were pushed to new limits, challenged to overcome various obstacles, and encouraged to take on more responsibilities. Between changing social dynamics, all nighters studying for Calc tests, SATs, and college admissions, I can say confidently that sometimes, high school was stressful.

Freud suggested, however, that in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful. In this moment, I cannot think of a more relevant statement. We’ve come a long way since freshman year, and as each of you reflects upon your high school careers, I hope you’ll find that some of your happiest moments were here, at York, with the people sitting around you. As you begin the next chapter of your lives, be confident that the experiences you’ve had here have prepared you for what’s to come. Rely on the strong foundations you’ve already created—because in four years, you have all matured into accomplished individuals with limitless potential.

You are all more than capable and deserving of happiness and success.

As we celebrate our departure from high school and the commencement of a new stage in our lives, I would like to acknowledge that this day should not only focus on that which is beginning and ending.

It has been said that graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life, and indeed, certain things must be continued. Although we are leaving York, I hope you all continue to build upon the lessons you’ve learned from your teachers and peers alike. I hope that you continue to stand proudly by your convictions and aspirations, and that you never give in without putting up a good fight. I hope that you continue to be bold and adventurous, that you never shy away from taking risks and making mistakes. I hope that you continue to nurture the relationships you’ve established with the people surrounding you, and that you never forget those who were there for you during your best and worst times.

But more importantly, as you embark on individual journeys and encounter new challenges, I ask you to remember that what matters most, is how well you walk through the fire. I hope you never let life harden you, that you continue to find time for lightheartedness and laughter, time to celebrate the small moments and big accomplishments. Moving forward, I hope that you experience life with unwavering determination, and that even when times are tough, you continue to fill yourselves with high spirits and big dreams.

Four years ago, the idea of graduation was a distant desire—a goal we worked towards but never fully envisioned. Yet, here we are, and although our hard-work certainly attributed to our achievements, we couldn’t have possibly done it alone.

To our families: we will never forget the unconditional love and support you’ve shown us. You encouraged us when we doubted ourselves and stood by us since the beginning. You will always be our heroes and our role models.

To our teachers and coaches, administrators, and counselors: You have given us the skills and the confidence to achieve greatness. Because of you, we depart from York a little wiser than when we came. We will always remember your patience, your dedication, and your care. For all of these things and so much more, the class of two thousand fourteen sincerely thanks every single one of you. Our success is your success, and as we go out into the world, I hope we continue to make all of you proud.

And finally, I would like to thank my fellow graduates for your friendship, your honesty, your humor, and your support. I will always carry fond memories of this place because of you. Wherever life takes you, may you continue to inspire those around you.

Congratulations. Will the graduated class of two thousand fourteen please rise.