June 14, 2021

Just over a week ago, I graduated from high school. The pushed back date for the graduation ceremony—one week later than a typical year—turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the original weekend date consisted of abnormally cold and rainy weather but the forecast for the following weekend was filled with the customary warmth, baking sunshine, and blue skies of June. 

This year was undoubtedly a challenging one. From dealing with the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, the uncertainty surrounding the state of our country in the aftermath of a contentious 2020 presidential election, and navigating a school year unlike any other due to the implementation of health precautions, for the Class of 2021, senior year was not an easy one. Amidst all of these anxieties, many seniors also dealt with both the excitement and unavoidable stresses of the college application process—a process which, as with almost all facets of life for the past two years, was unprecedented. My own college application journey was a difficult one. It was a journey filled with apprehension, unease, and daunting unpredictability. And yet, it was also filled with loud laughter, unanticipated growth, and valuable self-reflection.

It felt so special to celebrate commencement surrounded by family and friends after an especially tough senior year, and also to do so in a manner that so nearly mirrored pre-COVID graduation celebrations due to the timely loosening of state restrictions. I was also incredibly honored to have an opportunity to speak at my graduation ceremony. Though I felt nervous for days (well, weeks) prior to delivering my address, as I stood upon the platform and shared my story with my school community—the lessons I learned and joys I experienced as well as the struggles I faced—I was filled not so much with the paralyzing jitters I had anticipated, but rather a sense of contentedness and gratitude. While I am very much ready to close the chapter of my life that is high school and move on to the next journey that is college, I am so thankful for the experience that I had and, this year in particular, for the strengths I gained from the challenges I faced.

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