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Words from our Valedictorian!

 

Good morning, faculty and staff, family, friends, and my lovely Tepeyac sisters. Congratulations Class of 2021! We are finally here!  This is our moment! Four years ago, I  walked through Tepeyac’s doors not knowing where my high school journey would take me.  I never would've imagined us here, together, ready to begin the next chapter of our journey. 

Who would’ve known that some of the best of friends and some of the greatest memories could have been created here with each other. But over the last four years, Tepeyac has brought out the best of us and has opened many opportunities for us. We are one and we are strong!  We were strong when Covid hit. We were strong when we opened up to each other during Kairos, and cleared up our misunderstandings. We were strong and we had each other for over the last four years, that’s what I call a sisterhood, that’s what you all our to me and to each other.

See Tepeyac, although small and hidden, was a place where we all could flourish. As we bonded with each other, not only with our classmates but with other grades, teachers and faculty, we were able to make memories, empower each other, educate ourselves,  and form bonds and friendships we will always cherish. For many of us, Tepeyac is a second home. It is our family and we are each other's sisters. Tepeyac has taught us to be strong and powerful women. It has also taught us to be vulnerable, to not build walls around us, but to rely on each other when needed because vulnerability is strength.

Even if it is through Ms.Rill’s therapy sessions during class or Ms.Stephens’ realism about the world of taxes and credit scores, that p.s. I still don’t get, sorry Ms.Stephens. We have been in this incredible school for over the last few years and although beautiful and wonderful as it may seem we have to move on, to the next chapter of our lives. We sisters are ready to face the real world, we are ready. Although the majority of the world is populated by women, we are so underrated and often pushed aside. I hope Tepeyac has served as a place where you could find your voice and  utilize it in the future. I hope that you’re able to use it in the real world and not be pushed aside or silenced because your voice is powerful and no one can take that away from you. Sisters, I hope you realize that when you want change you are the change, you have all the power to do so, so use it. 

As William Shakespeare once said “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Although some are born with greatness, sisters don’t let that diminish your will of achieving greatness because you know that it is within your grasp. Greatness can be recognized by the world, by the few and by your own. In the dictionary, greatness is defined as the quality of being great. But I believe greatness comes from friends reaching out to us, those who go out of their way to check up on others, from being able to see the right from wrong and to motivate others. Greatness is not to achieve recognition or gain wealth, it’s to leave those with whom you cross paths with a little bit of happiness and hope. Our time together will not be remembered by our grades, popularity, or favorites but through our relationship with each other.

I’d like to take a moment on behalf of myself and my fellow graduates to thank the people that have brought us here. To Ms. Ingram, for being an amazing principal to all of us. I find your wise wisdom and supportiveness of your lovely chicklits impressive. To Ms.Kelsey, for always working hard, always seeking the best and the fullest potential of every student. Thank you for being a part of Tepeyac, we will miss you. To Ms. Stephens, for teaching us how to pay our taxes when even many of us won’t get jobs until later on in our lives and we will most likely forget. Thank you for trying though. To Ms. Rill, for always giving us the realist advice about college and life, I thank you for sharing your life experience with us. To Ms. Juarez, for always being so positive and supportive of us and making us dance to a Michael Jackson cumbia remix. Thank you for always lighting up the school with your light. I'd like to thank my parents, Mi mama y mi papá que vinieron a los Estados Unidos sin nada para brindar un mejor futuro a sus hijos. Les agradezco por creer en mí, por poder atenderme a un colegio, y ser la primera generación en atender a la universidad. Gracias Mama y Papa por eso los quiero mucho. I thank the rest of the staff and faculty because you have all inspired and impacted our lives even if it was for a small moment, I thank you too. And finally, I want to thank my classmates for being the sisters I never had and for always being supportive of each other! Thank you, Class of 2021! I hope that we are all able to cherish all the memories and people we have met here at Tepeyac, as they have all impacted our lives. So now we’re high school graduates. And soon, we’re going to be taking our last pictures and saying goodbye. There will be hugs and tears. We’ll do our best to stay in touch. But we’ll be living our lives and doing our best. Often on graduation day we look outside for heroes but I see them right here among us. I have seen in my years at Tepeyac that we don't have to look far for inspiration and that we each have the potential to make an inspiring contribution to others, by being true to our values and committing ourselves to big goals. When you leave here today, celebrate what you have accomplished, but look forward with open eyes towards how you, too, can be an inspiration for others. I’d like to leave all of you with a quote from Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Thank you all.

Penelope Romero

Class of 2021