June 7, 2019

Valedictory Address - Sarah Hammond

Well, I never thought I’d make it here today. I’m so happy and honoured to be standing in front of you all. Even though we’ve never met, we all have the same thing in common – our education. While I don’t know you, what your background is, whether you’ve ever gone to school or not, or your general life direction, I do know one thing for sure. We’re all here today, so that means we’ve made it! We’re graduating high school! How great does that feel?

saraI want to thank all of the teachers who have made it possible to be here today. Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever know how difficult we’ve made your lives. It has to be excruciatingly painful explaining things to us while we’re not right next to you. However, you’ve all been there for us every step of the way. No matter how obvious the answer to our question is or how many times you’ve repeated it, you’ve always been there to lend a guiding hand in our educations. So, even though we can’t see all the hard work you do, we’re so very grateful for you. I’m also very grateful for my parents and siblings. I wouldn’t have made it this far in life if you hadn’t been there encouraging me every step of the way.

I’m so excited to be graduating with you all here today! It’s amazing to look back on my life so far and see where I’ve come from. As I was writing my speech for today, I was challenged to think about why I chose to convey the message I have for you today. Honestly, I think our whole lives are based off our worldviews. My worldview is looking through the “eye glasses” of religion. Why do I think the way I do? Because of my upbringing in a Christian home and my own acceptance of that faith. While my message isn’t about religion, it did influence my choice quite a bit.

Just so you know a little bit about me, I have been homeschooled my whole life. This made my family extremely close as my Mom is like superwoman and has a degree in education so she was able to school us quite well. I remember back to when I was younger and me and both my brothers would be sitting at our kitchen table doing school and just waiting for the other siblings to understand their concepts so we could ask Mom a question. Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to pursue other interests that I have. Some of those are piano and hockey. I was able to start teaching piano when I was 15 and have had wonderful opportunities to teach some really amazing children. Due to the flexibility of school, I’ve also had the opportunity to work at Tim Hortons in the mornings. Trust me, coffee was my only motivation to get up at the atrocious hours I had to start work over the last year. One last interesting fact about myself is that I have dual citizenship with Canada and Australia. I plan on using that over the next year even though I’m not sure where my path leads yet.

Something we’re probably all thinking about during this time in our lives is: who am I? Where am I going in life? Well, it’s not something you can exactly Google. No matter how advanced society and technology gets, we still can’t find the answers to the questions that really seem to puzzle us. Google can’t tell us where our passion lies, which path we should take in life so we won’t be completely depressed going to work every day, or who we should marry. No matter how many BuzzFeed quizzes we take, it still can’t seem to give us a clear answer. We might not know the answer to that famous question, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” yet, but that’s okay.

Dr. Seuss said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” This is so true and encouraging, but another quote that I believe should follow is, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” by Steve Jobs. We aren’t in high school anymore. This means no more popularity contests and trying to look “cool.” We’re entering adult life, meaning paying rent and buying our own food and clothes. This sets in the reality that while choosing our life path for the future, we need to think about what is right for our lives, not what others will think is “lit,” or whatever the kids are saying these days. You need to find what is right for you. Depending on your worldview, you might be factoring in what makes you happy, family tradition, or in my case, what God wants for my life.

Whatever capacity you’re planning on pursuing, you should never worry about what others are thinking about you. Be yourself, don’t compete in the popularity contest your whole life. One last quote from Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!” And that’s my message for you today, Class of 2019. Go on your path with confidence and determination. Go where you are meant to be.