Salutatorian Speech

Written by Cynthia Cherng, Salutatorian of the Class of 2015:

Good evening parents, teachers, family and friends, and my fellow graduates. My name is Cynthia Cherng. It is my honor to be standing here as salutatorian of the class of 2015 today. Honestly, standing up here in front of so many people is not an easy thing for me to do. And if you know me, I’m always that quiet kid sitting at the back of the classroom trying to avoid contact with the teacher so I would not get chosen to speak. WELL you are probably all wondering how in the world I have gathered all this courage to stand up here. That’s because I have something important to say. But before that, I want to share what my fellow classmates of 2015 have to say. Toward the end of this semester, Mr. Travis asked our graduating class: if you had the chance, what would you want to say to your classmates.

There were some awesome responses, and it was so hard to pick the ones I wanted to share. I narrowed them down into two major themes. The first one is the way to develop a good character.

Here are some comments from my classmates. “God did not give us the privilege of attending Brook Hill simply to make good grades in a classroom; our truest achievements are found in the number of lives we were able to affect.”

“Know who you are, be who you are, love who you are.”

“Don’t wait till the night before to study for a test. It never works.”

The second theme is some good advice on how to live your life well.

“Spend more time with your family.”

“Live. Laugh. Love. And don’t live by stupid clichés.”

“We come from different parts of the world, we all look different, we have different blood types, but we are all ONE.”

And since I had the chance, I want to share what I want to say: Don’t forget the ones who helped you get to where you are today. We have very special people in our lives who have supported us, starting with our parents, families, loved ones, teachers, administrators, coaches, and our friends. These are the people who have helped me adapt to this community.

I know my situation is very different from most of you. I am an international student, I have only attended Brook Hill for two years, and I speak English as my second language. I came here later than most of you, but I have been shocked by how quickly I adapted to this community. Coming from a different country, it was hard to adjust to the new environment. Because of that, I had some funny moments happen when I first got here.

I remember on my very first day at Brook Hill, I told a boarding parent that I came from Taiwan. She was SO nice and SO caring, and she wanted to introduce me to another student from Taiwan, so I followed her. She introduced me to a guy from THAILAND because she thought we were from the same country. Funny thing is, it wasn’t until we started talking about which city we lived in that we realized we weren’t even from the same country! I was scared to death on that day because I really thought that I came to a place where no one knew where or what Taiwan is. But what I came to understand is that we are always learning new things about one another.

Since that first day, I have actually made many new friends and I believe that they will be my life-long friends.

We had a hard start for this spring semester, but this is when I saw, with my own eyes, how every single person from the Brook Hill family got together and supported one another. We cried together, we hugged each other, we kissed each other, and we knew that at that time we needed each other more than anything. From that day, something inside of me clicked and I realized that without a community, we lose our identities. And what is a person without an identity? Ever since I’ve come to Brook Hill, I have found my identity and who I want to be in my community. I want to be there for my family and friends when they are hurting and do my best to comfort them. This is something that I believe the Brook Hill School, or should I say, the Brook Hill family, has taught me.

Now that I’m finally starting to get comfortable in this place, unfortunately, I have to leave. But even though we are leaving, I believe that no matter where we are going off to college, the Brook Hill family will always be here for us. And it won’t change. When we come back five, ten years later, we will still be loved and cared about just like we are today. That’s what family is. I want to thank all the teachers and administrators at Brook Hill for including me in this family. And we all know that we would not be here today without the loving support of families at home, especially our moms and dads who have encouraged and supported us, cheered us on, and made it possible for all of us to succeed in our educational pursuits. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for always supporting me.

Finally, to the class of 2015 and those who are leaving home for college, don’t forget those who supported and shaped your identity; don’t forget your family. And I wish that y’all will find a family, just like Brook Hill, a family that you will feel comfortable being with. I hope everything goes well and I hope that you exceed beyond all your expectations in life! Thank you!