My Keynote Speaker Address

10:11 PM

I was honored to be the  Keynote speaker at my old high school.  Below You can watch the speech or read it.

Starting out I must congratulate High School for the Teaching and the Professions on their 12th  graduating class. Class of 2016 you did it. You have successfully completed all the necessary coursework to reach this marvelous occasion. Some may have ran across this finish line with their hands stretched high while others had to jump over a few hurdles along the way, but nevertheless you all did it.  Today, you sit in the presence of your phenomenal principal, outstanding educators, proud parents, and motivated peers to whom much gratitude is given. It has been these  nurturing relationships that has showed each and every single one of you, no matter how hard life might get, there is someone in your corner wanting to see you succeed. It gives me great honor to stand before the graduating class of 2016.

You went to school...
where stores "we accept EBT" signs greeted you before owners,
where passing through  the metal detectors became normal,
where double doors served as dividers between school,
where the #4 train rudely interrupted gossip,
where shopping after school meant walking to Fordham,
where not saying "Excuse Me" were fighting words,
where a balance of both street and book smarts are necessary for survival
You went to school in The Bronx.

Reflecting back on my graduation from this very same high school eight years ago, I can remember the feelings of being eager to take on life, pursue my dreams, and climb the ladder of success. I am not going to stand here and give you the cliché speech on how wonderful life is going to be moving forward. The truth is, it will be wonderful, but only if you continue to grow from the seeds of positivity presently planted in your hearts. You have all  made it this far not by accident but by your efforts, so let nothing and no one hinder you from your growth sprout.
What feels like the end is often a new beginning. With limitless opportunities ahead, never feel pressured to choose only one avenue of success. As long as you have the time, energy and interest go ahead and explore the possibilities. So often we are told to figure out what we want to be and stick to it. The reality is, it may take a few tries before you are exposed to your purpose in life. I challenge you to find your purpose and never stop working at  it. Many of you have decided to further your education by attending college. College is only as great as you make it. You must be involved in your education beyond the professors recommended readings and homework assignments. Maya Angelou once said "you can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you."
Your predecessors were great not because of flawless work but because they were resilient. Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity. I believe everything that has occurred in your life has prepared you with this élite trait. There will be critics but as Malcolm X put it "if you have no critics, you likely have no for success.” Now it is up to you to go out into society, embrace your individuality and create the future you desire.  It is time for you to show the world what you are made of.
Be proud of your past because it’s the foundation to your present. Love who you are while lusting for who you are destined to become. Life will happen to you whether you try to guide it or not, so you might as well try to influence it. I encourage you to…
Find your passion
Do what you love
Trust your intuition
Dream big
Take initiative
Be persistent
Give back
Inspire others
Embrace change
Achieve goals
Learn from your mistakes
And practice gratitude
But most of all, I encourage you to use the knowledge you have gained to make the most of the potential you possess.
Congratulation to the graduating class of 2016!!!

Thank you.

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