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April 1, 2020

Follow your passions

Co-valedictorian Jaron Cota’s speech from the 2019 San Benito High School commencement ceremony

Howdy y’all. Buenos días a todos. I don’t need to tell you where you’re at. I don’t need to tell you what you have learned or that we have “grown as a class.” I will tell you, however, that I have never really given a speech, let alone to thousands of people, so this is rather terrifying, and hopefully I don’t tell you anything you don’t already know—but if I do, just count it off as me being nervous. And, sorry I may not be as funny or light-hearted as my buddy Frederick, but this is a rather heavy day, so why not get a little heavy?

Here we are, celebrating the longest commitment any one of us has ever undertaken. Now it is time to start our new commitment: adulthood. There’s no one to hold our hands, no one to tell us what to do, no one to tell us how to live our lives. To some of us, we may see that as an absolute win. But to others, it may be hard to let go. Either way, we are the masters of our own destinies. We have the power to do anything we may choose, no matter how cheesy that may sound. The decisions we make our ours and our own. Some of us may be ambitious, waiting to finally bring our ideas into the world to change it forever. Others will live a happy satisfying life, with a family and children. And, of course, there are those in between. The greatest, and scariest, the thing is, there’s no one to tell us whether or not we made the right choice. That’s on us.

Now, we have more opportunities than ever before. It is our responsibility to take as many opportunities as we can, since we are now entering the most exciting time of our life. That’s precisely why the learning cannot stop. High school is over, but by no means are we done learning. And I’m not talking about learning in school; I’m talking about learning what this planet has to teach us. We must continue to learn in order to make the correct decisions for ourselves, to seize all of the opportunities possible, and to live as good of a life as possible. Learning is not a bad thing, it cannot hurt you, even though sometimes it might seem that way; it is not illegal to learn as much as possible. In fact, learning can only make you better, and it can only make our world better.

If you couldn’t tell, the world is having trouble trying to contain the pesky human species. And, unfortunately, all of those humans don’t quite get along with each other. Through learning, we may have the solution to these problems, and I don’t know about you, but to me that is incredibly exciting. All we have to do now is to give it our 100 percent, to never stop, to never be satisfied, and to follow our passions.

Y para todas de nuestros hispanohablantes, el mensaje es esto. Ahora, tenemos el control de dirigir nuestras vidas. Tenemos el control de hacer decisiones que queremos hacer. Para algunos, esto es emocionante, pero para otros es espantoso. Pero, no debemos temer de nuestro futuro. Todo que necesitamos hacer es aprender. El aprendizaje es clave de resolver los problemas en nuestra comunidad y el mundo. Entonces, recomiendo que aprendan todo lo que puedan. Eso nos sirve mucho en todos los aspectos de nuestras vidas. Gracias.  

On a final note, look around. See all the faces that you have come to know and love throughout our time here. Let the people who you love in life know that you appreciate them. Simply letting the people you love know that you love them can go a long way. And, unfortunately, you may never know when you may see them again. Life happens fast, for better or for worse. Again, sorry for the cheesiness. Thank you.

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