Graduation 2020: A resilient generation


I think I’ve rewritten this speech about a dozen times mostly because I wanted every word to mean something. I didn't just want to write a speech that was for me. I wanted to write a speech that embodied us, the class of 2020. So without further ado here is “My Best Attempt (version 14).” 

I spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out what to write, how not to write about COVID-19, and what it did to us and our year. But the truth is it's what brought us together. Covid-19 is a reflection of what we endured for the last 4 years. Just like COVID-19 the last four years of our lives have been composed of changes. From the moment we walked in from San Pedro to when we were separated at Blue and Gold. to when we reunited at Upper and then walked the halls of our home. We've been dealing with changes our entire lives, without knowing the horrors of the world. 

We were the generation that began our first chapter of life post 9/11 and we are the first to end our first major chapter of life with COVID-19. We've been dealing with adversity our entire lives to the point that we don't know what the words “give up” mean. When the classes before laughed at us that we didn't have prom or graduation, we decided to stand tall and make the best of it.  

This past week I watched a program thrown by XQ called “Graduate Together” and here I saw some of the most influential people give commencement speeches to us. LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, President Obama, and the most influential of them all - graduating seniors of the Class of 2020 all across the nation. We didn't crack under the pressure; we became diamonds in the rough. We reminded everyone what resiliency meant and we became beacons of hope not for ourselves but for each other. 

To the class of 2020, I know quarantine hasn't been easy. I know that we all wanted a different way to end our senior year. To have the last 12 years of our lives mean something. But the truth is we do not need to be accustomed to these traditions, the ones that put limits on us when we've already defied all odds. We've already had virtual graduations and proms, yes I said graduation and prom with an “S” because we earned every single one. We built a community nationwide under extreme circumstances and continued moving forward. 

We wouldn't have made it this far if it wasn't for the people who selflessly helped us throughout the way. This is for all the teachers, staff, administration, friends, family, counselors, that’s for you Morales, on behalf of the class of 2020 I thank every single one of you. We all made it this far because of your unconditional support, whether or not we saw that it helped us at the moment, it helped us become who we were supposed to be and who we are going to be. 

To my parents and siblings I want to thank every single one of you for everything you have done for me. For supporting and loving me unconditionally. I’d thank you all individually if time permitted.

I want to end this by leaving you all with a piece of advice that I was gifted by a friend, “be selfish now, so you can be selfless later.” This does not mean to turn a blind eye and not help when you can only to do so later in life. It means take advantage of resources and ask questions to take care of yourself, so one day you may pass on the wisdom you acquired to someone else and change their lives. Congratulations! We did it!


Joseph Jimenez,
Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy Salutatorian