Ashley Yu shares lessons learned at South High in speech

Ashley Yu shares lessons learned at South High in speech
Ashley Yu shared some lessons learned at Great Neck South High School during the class of 2019’s commencement ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Great Neck Public Schools)

The following speech was delivered by Ashley Yu, class of 2019, at Great Neck South High School’s 2019 commencement ceremony. It was submitted to the Great Neck News by the Great Neck Public Schools.

I’ve learned a lot here. Not just academically to the high standards held, but emotionally, and I wanted to share. Great Neck South High School breaks the majority, if not all, of the clichés of high school. There are no evil principal or teachers, no harsh “labels”; kids are kind and respectful. Everyone is essential to the community we’ve built. There truly isn’t a place like Great Neck South, and it is because of the people here.

I’ve learned that nothing will ever truly prepare me for my future. I don’t know what it holds. There’s always going to be a risk or decision to be made. If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed in life, it’s struggle. We’ve all had them and we’re going to continue to have them. But that’s no reason to hold back.

I’ve learned that it’s ok to have a little fear and competition as long as it doesn’t consume you. It should motivate you. In the words of Bill Gates, “Don’t let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives.” No matter how scary the thought of the future is, it’s up to each person to make the best of the opportunities given and to create and define their own versions of success and happiness.

The world we’re about to be released into is like the ocean: mysterious, immense, endless. The past 17 or 18 years have been a walk along the shore, with the people around us being guiding lights. But as we depart from what we’ve known and wade in the water, we face the waves; both struggle and opportunity: our future. We can either choose to retreat in fear or face these waves head on, reaching deeper water and exposing ourselves to our full potential. Choose the latter, because one strong stir can set an entire sea into motion.

The opportunities and struggles we’ve had, the relationships formed, the memories made, the kindness already encountered all serve a purpose. I’ve built my character here, become my own person: a bubbly girl with a weird laugh; someone who will talk to anyone, and I’ve learned to be unapologetically me. We can never fully prepare for what the future brings, but we can be ready to face it head on with the experiences we’ve had at Great Neck South High.

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