Natnael Abraham, Mountlake Terrace High School staff’s choice of student speaker
Surprise Dad! Yes, your son is up here to speak his commencement speech. Watch his blood pressure, Mama. How did i get the chance speak for you guys? Well, it took four years kissing up, being teacher’s pet, getting roses for Staff ladies on Valentine’s Day and hooking Jerry up with McDonald’s drive thru.
Today I’m going to give y’all my speech and my story. My full name is Natnael Abraham and I was born and raised in Asmara, Eritrea, a third world country located in East Africa, that won its independence from Ethiopia. Unlike many outsiders assume, we didn’t hunt lions every day and live in the jungle. Let me describe what my lifestyle was: I woke up to my brother’s feet touching my nose, and my mom’s arm swung over my chest. I heard my dad’s loud snores two inches away from my ear. We were all crammed in our queen sized bed, but this was how we slept every night in Eritrea. My home was a 300 square foot room jam-packed with one bed, a small kitchen, and bathroom. Every morning I would wake up and chase the school bus that was already filled to the capacity with kids sitting on one another, hoping that a military soldier from Sawa wouldn’t recruit me for the day. You see, while many students in America dream about becoming doctors and lawyers, I was faced with inevitably becoming a solider for my country. Growing up, I felt I couldn’t control my destiny knowing Sawa was coming upon me. But, unlike many back home, I was fortunate enough to escape this dead end destiny.
When I was seven years old, my family won a lottery-visa which allowed us to get the opportunity to immigrate to America. Before coming to America, my family stayed in Egypt for five months for our immigration process. In Egypt, I had to adapt to a new culture and language. When I came to America all I knew was 50 cent and… the F word. I had never seen so much unlimited Coca Cola. My beloved uncle, who passed away last week, provided his home for my family to settle in this new world. He and my other family members that were in seattle were able to get my parents jobs and get me into international school. My uncle was on our side until we got our own feet. Rest in peace, Uncle Ande, I will love and remember you forever.
My parents dropped out early in high school, so I promised myself that I was going to work my hardest to reach my dream of going to college. Utilizing my opportunities, teachers, mentors, coaches, I would take any help I was offered and asked for more work to push myself. In the process, I carried many virtues from Eritrea with me such as ambition, perseverance, patience, and humility, which helped during the challenging times. Now, here I am, going to be the first in my family to graduate high school and attend college at University of Washington , GO DAWGSSSS.
Class of 2017, now enough talking ‘bout me. Let’s talk about our class of 2017. The most attractive class in Terrace history. It been a great senior year for us. We had our STEM program excelled, our music department went off the roof with Andrew Sumbat, our Hawkeye journalist is top in the nation with Stephanie Smith, and Terrace soccer with 11 senior varsity got 4th in state for the first time in 22 years! Ride the tiger, Coach!
Class of 2017, we will long be known, as the class of the pigeons. Do you know about homing pigeons ? Homing pigeons have blown the minds of humans with their amazing ability to always find their way way home, across huge distances. This ability to navigate back home with astounding accuracy has never been understood. As graduates, each of us now will go on our own life journeys. My theory, the class of the pigeons , is that we will always know our way home and fly back to Mountlake Terrace HS to our friendships and great memories.
But now, class of 2017, I ask you to think about something. Have you noticed you rarely see a Lamborghini commercial or a commercial for the newest rolex? It’s interesting how they even stay in business because it seems like they never have advertisements or commercials. Like how is that they even make money? But the funny thing is, they don’t need to because everybody knows their values.
Everybody knows the values of a lamborghini or rolex and most importantly the companies know this as well. No matter how little advertising they do, they will always have interested buyers. and now that we are entering this real world as old people say, I want you to be the Ferrari, to be the Jordans. Don’t feel like you need to sell yourself or commerical yourself to please people and make them like you. Know your value and live it. But advertise, to present your significance once a while.
Each one of you is an alluring and complex person with a unique personality, unique features, unique character, unique goals, unique ambition. Each one of you and including myself, has something to offer to this world.
If you accept your value and self worth, opportunities and people are going to come to you like they do to exotix watches, cars, Jordans, but when you start selling yourself to make other people happy, you start thinking in the Honda mindset. No offense to the people that drive Honda! I drive a Honda, too! Anyways, you understand what I’m trying to say here. When you have this mindset, you start to lose your individuality and your self worth.
A street philosopher, J Cole, once said “ Life is a movie, pick your own role, Climb your own ladder or you dig your own hole.” From my perspective of migrating from a third world country to America, and your backgrounds, don’t settle and don’t take any less than what you deserve, keep thriving, keep high standards, keep being and doing more than the average and ask great things of the world and you eventually receive them.
Before I go, I want to thank and shout out the people in my life for I would not be who I am today without them. I want to thank my mom and dad, I want to thank Mr. Boxley for being my mentor, friend and a big brother since freshmen year.
I want to thank Mr Schwab for being the best principal Terrace will ever have.
I want to thank all my staff ladies and moms in the counseling office and main office.
I want to thank the Gardner family for being my white family and second home.
I want to thank the lunch ladies for giving me extra hash browns on my plate.
I want give special shout-out to my best friends I was lucky enough to keep since 7th grade: Anthony, Joey, Bryon, GG, Pavel, Maia, Amaree, Gabby, and Malak and others.
And last I want to thank the Terrace High and class of 2017 for making my high school experience in America that I would cherish for rest of my life.
Well that’s all I got. I know you are all dying for the ceremony to be done. So with that I say congrats class of 2017, like another street philosopher and writer, Drake, once said “We made it!”