It has been almost four years since I left high school for college. While I was cleaning my room and hard drives for move-out, I found the graduation speech I gave four years ago. It’s fun to read it again four years later and it serves as a good reminder of what and where I should be striving.
I will post the speech below, unedited. Enjoy!
Before I get started, I want to thank and recognize my guardians and parents, who have supported me through out the years. Special thanks to Ms Patience nave, who introduced me to ORMA, cultivated me during my early year at ORMA, and Ms Vicki Miller, my second generation guardian, who has been encouraging and caring for me ever since.
I remain forever grateful for their nourishing.
The board, President Nobles, distinguished guests, faculty, staff, families, and fellow cadets, good morning. My name is Kedi Zheng and I represent one of the many voices of this graduating Class of 2014.
The only thing better than completing high school is the chance to convey my thought and experience to a captive audience through a lengthy speech, a chance I am now ready to take full advantage of.
I have been thinking of what I should say to interest many, amuse some, amaze a few, and, most importantly, to make this process as energetic as possible to keep us all awake and away from our cellphones. So I did what every student does; I plagiarized on Google and YouTube. But the only thing I found after cruising seas of data is that cut and paste could only produce second-class speech for the audience and verbal ordeal for the speaker.
So I decided to speak my mind and the first thing came up to me is appreciation.
Of all the commencement speeches this podium has ever held, nine out ten are about brotherhood, courage, civil responsibility and grand future. I certainly have enjoyed and valued these things our past cadets cherished. In fact, one of my best memories at Oak Ridge is doing the obstacle course with Sergeant H and my fellow cadets. But this is not only a time for fruition, a time for excessive self-promotion, but also a time for reflection and appreciation. I would be gravely remiss if I addressed the class of 2014 without mentioning our guides, mentors, and people who have facilitated and improved our life on and off campus.
There is a group of people who have been faithful to the development and evolution of our school. They have been indispensable to our cadets daily life, from morning inspection by TAC officers to classes taught by teachers with professionalism. They impart knowledge, wisdom and leadership, they build the platform for student leadership programs and guide us to stride forward. They are on the stage of our academy, but have often not been recognized in this finale. They have stood the vicissitude of time to build up the foundation on which we take off for the future. They are our beloved teachers, faculty and TAC officers. He is Maj B with a broad knowledge base and a distinctive pedagogy, teaching from bell to bell. She is Ms Wray, charming and erudite, interweaving Maths with fun facts and anecdotes to boost our interest and prowess in Maths. She is Ms Freeman, working hours on our college applications before she goes to coach a soccer game. He is Mr Morris with benevalent smile and good-will. She is First sergeant, the mum of Oak Ridge. They are chief duff’s national anthem, Master Sergeant’s eight count body builder, Sergeant Major and gunnies’ cadre training and Colonel Nobels’ and Colonel Lucas’s squared away uniform and invigorating speeches.
The list goes on and on and I would like to recognize them one by one, but time limit does not allow me to do so.
Without their understanding and support, I, as a kid who was new to this country and this language two years ago, could not even imagine the feats I have achieved. From a boy who couldn’t even construct a proper English sentence two years ago, to a man with a brawny body and strong character who is about to matriculate to wake forest, I have ventured a long way.
This scholastic triumph is trivial compared with soft skills I have learned here, because education should not, and is not confined only in the academic arena. Remembering one plus one and the 16th president is not the essence of education ( By the way , It is 2 and Lincoln) Albert Einstein said that education is what remains after one has forgotten everything learned at school. This school is a microcosm of the real world, where we could experience and learn
As class representative, I also want to express our deepest gratitude to parents and classmates on behalf of the graduating class of 2014.
Classmates, thanks for the vital role you have played in our life and for the precious gift of friendship
Parents, you have devoted big chunks of your life into what seems to be the most onerous job in the world, at least in my parents case. Thank you for investing time, money and care on us. We are forever grateful to you. And we promise you your investment will pay back, with a boat load of interest and love.
Most of you know at least something about me more than my three syllables, exotic Chinese name. I spent my two years here, being a smarty pants, know-it-all and a person full of special ideas, so dwelling on formality is not my style. But I do have some words for our graduating class and underclassman, Not only for the sake of formality.
For the graduating class of 2014 , congratulations to all of you again, for graduating successfully and for the new adventure we are going to face together. Now we are at our first watershed of life, so we are entitled to be cocky, pompous and a little bit crazy. But don’t lose sight of what Oak Ridge has been cultivating since the first day we arrived. Because going to college is not a justifiable excuse to get loose. At Oak Ridge, everything is semi-collegiate, from class structure to dorm life, so the college freshman year is just “senior year plus one”. And don’t forget the purpose of going to college and why we are here: to master a body of knowledge and to prepare for the bigger world.
For underclassman, from Mr Whimet, the youngest potential leader, to Battalion commander of the 163th corps of cadet, captain Freeman, I hope you excel in this place where generations of leaders have started their journeys with skills instilled by this institute. Some of you may have struggled here, It may be discipline or academic. Seek help from you peers, your teachers, TAC officers, like what I have been doing since my first day.. Help is out there, not far, not close. Assistance and help are tangible, but they won’t just fall in your lap. Take Initiative to pursue them.
For the whole corps. This has been a meaningful year, we have changed a lot, and in general, the school is steadily improving. Sir Issac Newton once said : If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulder of the giant. Past Alumni and the school has provided an excellent foundation and harbor to the future. I will be pleased, but not surprised, to hear that my high school friends become generals, successful business people or great community leaders, for our school deserves such excellent alumni.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh. Now, It is time to bid farewell. Parting is such a sweet sorrow that I would like to continue this commencement until today becomes tomorrow.
I wish you well, and in the unlikely event that my plane crashes and I couldn’t see you again, have a good day, a good year and a good life.