South High Valedictorian Kimberly Lu’s Graduation Speech

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Kimberly Lu

As we bid farewell to our high school days and look forward to the excitement of college life, this is the opportune time for us to reminisce—about the good times, the accomplishments and those jolly and sometimes wild moments we shared as a class. At the heart of our most cherished memories lie friendship—bonding with schoolmates in the classroom, in the lab, at the clubs and on the field, supporting one another through challenging and stressful times, and celebrating the milestones we have reached together. Through individual initiative, collaboration and the power of teamwork, we have accomplished more than we ever could have imagined, whether in the opera, Science Research, Theater South, Math Team, Science Olympiad, DECA, HOSA, robotics, Key Club, athletics, The Southerner, Exit 33, debate or any of the other myriad activities we’ve participated in.

At the same time, this is the moment to rejoice, celebrating our achievements in the past four years, during which we have transformed from eager but inexperienced freshmen into the independent and confident graduating seniors that we are today. We have learned how to persevere, how to study and how to work hard for what we aspire to and, in the meantime, become experts at balancing the competing demands of academics and extracurriculars.

This is also the moment of gratitude, to express our profound appreciation to our parents, teachers and administrators. To the parents, thank you for the untiring support you have given us throughout all our endeavors and for the time you have invested in us—the time you have spent raising us, loving us and guiding us to success as we progress through each stage of life. You are the bedrock of our lives and, for that, we are forever grateful. To the teachers, thank you for the invaluable lessons you have taught us and for the exemplary roles you have played as teachers and mentors. In addition to teaching your course content, you have taught us to become true scholars with curiosity and confidence to explore the unknown. To the administrators and Board of Education, thank you for providing the optimal high school facilities, faculty, programs and community. We are very lucky to have been the recipients of a Great Neck South High School education.

This is a moment of hope and aspiration as well, a moment for us to look forward to what the future holds for us. The world is entering a new era of innovation and advanced technology. The significant breakthroughs that have been achieved so far in the realms of artificial intelligence, information technology, energy and medical research in recent years only herald the endless possibilities of what we will bring.

Today, we are gathered to share a watershed moment. As we conclude high school and look to the next stage of our life’s journey, what lies ahead is uncharted territory that awaits our exploration. We don’t have a GPS to guide us; the calculated route to the rest of our lives does not exist. It will be up to us to design our own paths to determine the direction in which we want to proceed.

As this new chapter of our lives unfolds, let us keep a few things in mind. Firstly, let us resolve to make the best of our lives, following our intellectual curiosity, finding things we love to do, pouring our passions and hearts into meaningful pursuits and contributing the best we have to offer to the world. Secondly, let us, as Dr. Hersh would say, “embrace complexity”—take pleasure in attempting ambitious feats, do the things that excite us and push us to our limits and rise to the challenge. Finally, many of us will, in due course, turn out to be outstanding citizens of this great country, saving lives, improving human health, creating great works of art, exploring outer space, educating others, rescuing the environment, contributing new technology, cooking up gourmet recipes, performing and entertaining, writing laws and policies, or protecting human rights. These and so many more possibilities await. But no matter where our chosen paths may lead, let us always strive towards self-improvement, bearing in mind that there is always room to become better iterations of ourselves. We have so much to contribute to the world, and so much more to learn from it.

Class of 2018, we still have a long way to go, but today, we celebrate how far we have come. Thank you to the families, teachers and administrators for everything you have done to guide and support us! I would also like to personally thank my mother, my father, my grandma and my uncle. Without them, I would not be standing at this podium today. To the Class of 2018, congratulations and good luck!

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