By Mike Martinez, District 518
Editor’s note: The following is a graduation speech delivered by graduating Worthington High School senior Mike Martinez during the May 24 WHS commencement ceremony.
It is my honor today to welcome students, families, and faculty to this memorable ceremony. Every single one of you in this gym has made an impact on the graduates who sit here today; we thank all of you for that.
Renowned activist and leader Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I stand before all my fellow peers today to ask you one simple question. What is your aspiration in life? Such a simple yet complex question that I don’t expect you to have the answer to just yet. However, I do want you to think about it throughout this address.
Aspiration, meaning, ‘a hope or ambition of achieving something.” What do you plan to achieve after high school? Get a degree in something? Find your passion? Explore the world? The possibilities are infinite. And I know we’ve all been asked what our plans are to do after high school. The question has become redundant at this point in our lives, but I believe it’s an essential question that we must ask ourselves once we officially walk out those doors with our diplomas. (Which we are eager to obtain, I’d assume.) We should have a sense or an idea of what’s to come. It’s a scary thought to think about sometimes. You’re growing up; you are maturing into an adult and will be facing the “real world.”
Try to look at this as an opportunity for yourself. Keeping a positive mindset will take you to many places. I know I’ve had my own experiences where I thought it was all over. There was no way that I could be successful. I doubted myself and brought myself down due to my failures that I committed. If there is one piece of advice that I can bestow upon you today is that in life - you will fail multiple times. That is just the way life works, and we can’t change that. But despite that, everyone in this room will handle failure differently. When you fail in life, you must recount what you did and own up to your mistakes. No one can control your life but you. Put on those grownup pants and keep moving forward. Believe in the person that you want to become. With that mentality, you will achieve greatness.
When I stand here, looking upon all your faces, I see potential. You as individuals can offer something that no one else can. Your job is to find that part of you that separates yourself from everyone. You are the master of your own fate; you are the captain of your own soul, you cannot forget that.
It’s hard to believe that this is happening, isn’t it? I’m still trying to wrap it all together and comprehend it. Thinking about it was terrifying at points. I can admit that have a soft place for both of my parents. Leaving both is going to be hard for me and difficult for others as well. I’ve accepted that. I’m forever indebted to them; for always making me push the envelope in everything that I do. I thank them, for the knowledge and virtues that they have instilled in me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. Being thankful is critical. We can’t do what we can without the help of others. The people surrounding us here today, take a glance at them. These are the people that matter the most in our lives. The ones that came to see you walk this stage and receive your diploma; they are here for you and want to see you succeed. Don’t take these people (who have helped you) for granted. Being humble is an exceptional character trait to have.
Speaking of being thankful. I’d like to dedicate this thanks to the faculty. Thank you, for making these four years what they have been - an experience, one that will be unforgettable to many. I know that you don’t get appreciated enough for all the work that you do, and we’re all grateful for your endless labor of trying to get us to this very day. You’ve motivated many individuals, such as me, from your teachings and artistry. You deserve every ounce of respect for the career that you have. It’s truly inspiring.
I hope you haven’t forgotten about my question that I asked in the beginning. Finding and creating yourself is what life is about. You will inspire many people in your lifetime. You may stumble, you may fall on your journey of finding your aspiration. Nevertheless, you can and will get back on your feet. You’ll help yourself and others accomplish wonders that you never thought you’d be capable of. You’re all powerful in your own right.
Class of 2019, this is it. Take it all in - not all at once, though. Just appreciate all the little moments that have happened in this building. From learning how to become a millionaire with Mr. Koller, to thinking philosophically and having a little bit of life lessons from Mrs. Singler and seeing Mr. Doyscher mimic Donald Trump with a wig. We’ll miss this place and its memories that it gave us. It’s true that they say that these four years go by fast. Now it’s time to take the highroad of life and keep going. I’m not saying it’s going to be simple, but it most definitely will be worth it in the end. I wish the best of luck to all of you and anticipate that someday you will find your aspiration in something you cherish. Thank you.