Good morning everyone.
To the parents, friends, teachers and administrators here, on behalf of the Class of 2011, thank you for your continued support throughout our years in Sayville.
To my fellow classmates, congratulations. Every one of you is sitting here as a result of your own hard work and dedication, and the help and support of your family, friends, teachers, and mentors. I ask that as you formally leave Sayville High School today you take the time to not only congratulate yourselves, but also to thank those who have helped you along the way. But before you receive your diplomas, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my own thoughts of encouragement that you will hopefully take with you wherever you decide to go. Remember that the only way to get where you want to go is by making and achieving goals that will lead you to your intended destination.
For all of us sitting here today, graduating from high school was a goal, one that we can all say that we achieved. Upon leaving here today, we all have a job which is to decide on a new goal, if you have not done this already. This can be something as big as having a certain career far down the road, or something as small as getting an A on your first college paper. The type and size of your goal is for you to decide and everyone’s goal will be different, for we all want to go somewhere different in life. While you may strive to be a business owner, others, like me, strive to work in the medical field. Still others may be working towards becoming a leader in our armed forces, while others may decide to focus first on short-term goals like making Dean’s List or earning new responsibilities at work. No doubt there are hundreds of other goals that I did not mention, but what is important is that everyone has one, because having a goal is what motivates us to be our best. If we don’t have something that we are working towards, then we may forget why we are working at all, and we end up standing still.
Deciding on your goal is the easy part, and something that we all know how to do. We all have experience in achieving goals, and the fact that we are all sitting here today is proof of that. The challenge is in achieving it, and today marks a significant turning point in the way that we will do so. Until today, everything we have done has been the result of our own hard work, but to an equal extent it has been the result of the help we received from our parents, teachers, coaches and mentors. Any time we needed someone, we had a host of people waiting to offer their hands. But as we leave here today, things are different. Whether you go off to college, enter the workforce, or nobly serve our country, we will have to rely on ourselves to search for opportunities and motivation. Yet at the same time, it is important to realize that alone we can’t achieve anything. People who give up on their goals do so after one of two issues, and a lack of drive to make things happen for themselves, is one of them. Without the involvement of our parents and teachers that we were used to in high school, the drive to succeed must come from ourselves. This transition is difficult for many. Let’s say for example that a college freshman wants to graduate and become a teacher. However, during his first year of college he lets his grades slip because his parents aren’t checking up on his grades and to him, they aren’t important. Before long his apathetic attitude becomes habit and he never reaches his goal. Fortunately we can all avoid this pitfall by working with drive and motivation in everything we do, so our goals remain attainable.
The other issue that prevents people from achieving their goals is, I think, the belief that we must achieve our goals completely on our own. Oftentimes graduates are told that upon leaving high school, they are entering “the real world,” where no one is going to be there to help them out, and they must be totally self-reliant. For many high school graduates, myself included, this paints a picture of complete independence, but also solitude. While it is true that we will have to be independent in creating our own success, many students have trouble seeing the difference between being independent, and being alone. We are not expected to achieve our goals all on our own, so don’t get discouraged if you need help along the way. I don’t think there has been a single med student who didn’t once need help in organic chemistry, or a single artist who didn’t have to once reach out for inspiration. Those who reach out for assistance when they hit an obstacle are the ones who succeed. Those who give up instead of using the resources around them are the ones who don’t. What we all need to keep in mind, however, is the fact that assistance is no longer reaching out to us like it did for the last thirteen years. Because we are now responsible for ourselves, we must search for the resources available to help us reach our goal. So if years from now you remember one thing of what I’ve said, let it be this: we are responsible for achieving our own goals, and part of that responsibility is knowing when and where to look for assistance so we never feel we need to give up on our goals.
This Class of 2011 is full of talent and people with a variety of dreams and ambitions. I hope that you all do everything you can to achieve your goal and that you never give up on any of them, no matter how difficult it may seem. Remember, don’t be afraid to work harder or ask for help. I wish you all the best of luck in whatever you decide to do, and I know that years from now we will all be even prouder than we are today to say that we are members of Sayville High School’s Class of 2011.