Opinion: The Argonaut | My Graduation Speech

Editor in Chief Jason Paras shares his graduation speech in his final article with the Charger Account

By Jason Paras (Previous Editor-in-Chief) on Monday June 2, 2014

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Jason Paras | Editor in Chief

June 2, 2014

Jason performing at DP's talent show

Jason performing at DP’s talent show

I auditioned to be one of the student speakers at graduation this Thursday. I lost.

A few weeks ago, I heard that the criteria was released for those who wish to speak at graduation and was immediately excited. We, the students, were empowered. Our school was giving us the opportunity to speak to and forever change the lives of our whole graduating class, our parents, and many more people as well.

I read the criteria and realized that it mainly encouraged the students to write the most emotionally sparking piece they could: one that encourages laughing, crying, and Charger pride.

Although it’s kind of a strange concept, I believe that just because a speech makes me applaud, bawl, or feel good about the school I go to, it doesn’t make it powerful, necessarily.

If my goal were to simply “win” the competition, to be gifted the freedom to speak at graduation, the next decision I made was a pretty dumb one.

I put down the paper that said what the judging system was looking for, and wrote what I wanted to write.

I wanted my motives in the right place, meaning that I would refuse to write a speech geared toward merely making you remember it as “funny” or “sad”, but instead I would write a speech that could change every audience members’ outlook on life, forever.

I wanted to help people.

This is what I was thinking when I wrote my speech:

Cliche motivational speeches about pursuing your dreams of being a rockstar, astronaut, or billionaire, make me really mad, and not only because we hear them a thousand times each week.

I can’t stand them because they aren’t motivational for everybody.

I knew an incredible man who went to DP a few years ago who — after he graduated — went straight into working as a janitor.

Why? His family needed him.

With many younger brothers and sisters needing to be fed, he quickly took action and made sure they would get a chance at a bright future.

I see him sitting at school as “motivational” strangers would tell him that he should go live his wildest dreams of performing for hundreds of thousands of people, bouncing on the moon, or making tons of cash to live the life they say he has always wanted.

I see him utterly depressed that, while these other people get to pursue their wildest dreams, he’s supposedly wasting his life away as ONLY a janitor.

If only someone had told him that if his life dream is to be a blessing to his family and give them the brightest future he possibly can, that is so, so cool, and inspiring, and that he should do his absolute best to pursue that dream with everything he has.

I wrote this speech to show him, and everyone like him who are doing incredible things on this earth, that dreams don’t have to reward you with outstanding amounts of fame or fortune. And, that being a janitor can be the most inspiring and incredible dream that has ever been seen.

Here’s what I wrote:

I’m going to miss a lot about high school.

Whether it’s the luxury of having 30 people forced to sit in a room with you six times a day, or getting to stare at that absolutely perfect girl in class who you know that if you had the guts to just get up and say hello, you would end up together, forever, I know that each one of us will really miss something about this incredible place.

Although I’ve put a lot of thought into this, I really have no idea what I want to say.

I could try to get our Charger pride going and speak about how great DP is, but I think I would be writing that to impress you all rather than actually saying something important. Because we’ve all heard them over and over again, I don’t want to waste your time with the typical “be who you want to be” and “live with no regrets” topics. So, instead, I’m going to tell you something I would regret if I didn’t tell you, by giving you the opportunity to see the world through my eyes.

I’m a lame kid, and always will be.

My dream I’ve been pursuing, ever since I wrote my first song at age ten, is to be a rockstar. I want to be a professional singer-songwriter who wins Grammys, who writes number one hit songs, and who sells out unreal stadiums like Staples Center.

My music was going great. Junior year, at age 16, I was named the number one 17 and under vocalist in California, and I thought I was so happy. I would always think to myself, “man, all those speakers who told me to go out there and love my dream of being a professional musician are going to be so proud of me.”

However, because music was my top priority above all else, I found myself miserable.

That’s when I closed my eyes to see what I want with my future. I wanted to see my wildest dreams. In my mind, years began to fly by and I saw my dream future. I saw what all these high school speakers have been telling me to pursue: I saw what was most important to me, but never once did I picture myself singing at the Grammys.

Instead I saw myself at age 25, with the girl of my dreams: my wife. We were walking at the beach holding hands doing the cheesy “I’ll splash you, but oh my gosh please don’t splash me even though I really want you to more than anything,” and then went home to watch our favorite movie.

At age 35 I saw my kids, with me and my wife getting all dressed up in the silliest costumes to go trick-or-treating.

And at age 90, I saw myself in the hospital holding hands with her dreaming of that time we were only 25, splashing each other at the beach, having the time of our lives. I sang her a song — a song I wrote for her — with my final breaths.

I still want to be the best singer I can be. I still dream of writing the most touching and beautiful songs. But even more so, I want to be the best husband ever. I want to make my wife smile. I want her to be the happiest woman who has ever lived. I want to be the best father I can be. I want to be a great role model for my children, and one day show them that there should be no difference between your dreams, your goals, and your reality.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to follow your dreams. Maybe your dreams are some sort of career, and that isn’t bad or wrong. But, what I am saying is that I wish someone told me that dreams don’t have to be careers. They don’t have to include being on movie screens or having big fancy cars.

And, gosh, although all of us are so different with such unique dreams, and goals, and possibilities, we all have two things in common. One, high school is one crazy ride and we all conquered it. Two, we are, and always will be Dos Pueblos Chargers.

And, yes, Chargers dream big.

This is the last article I will write for the Charger Account.

Thank you all for your support and, for those of you who read the Finale… it rained.

Jason Paras
Previous Editor-in-Chief - jparas14@thechargeraccount.org
Jason Paras -- the Charger Account Editor in Chief -- is participating in his third year as a member of the Charger Account. In his spare time, Jason is a competitive singer and songwriter who was recently named the no. 1, 17 and under solo vocalist in California.

There are 2 comments on Opinion: The Argonaut | My Graduation Speech:

Kendall on June 2, 2014 at 2:36 PM PDT

This is awesome. Very well-written and a great message.

Tonya on June 3, 2014 at 4:08 PM PDT

Growing up my father retired from the military and went to work for the school district as a gardener. He worked as a janitor at night if someone was ill. I still meet people who say what a great influence my dad had on their lives. It was so wonderful to read this article, especially coming from a young person. More people need to understand that it isn't about what you have in your life, it is about how you live your life. If everyone lived their life to do their best and influence others to do so, the world would be a much better place. Thanks for the great article!

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