Graduation Speeches by Chicago Public Schools' Students

Graduation Speeches by Chicago Public Schools' Students
On Friday, June 14, 223 students graduated from Hancock College Prep High School. Valedictorian Osbeyda Navarrete stands at the podium. The top ten students were all Latinas.

On Friday, June 14, 223 students graduated from Hancock College Prep High School, a Chicago public school on the city Southwest side.  The theme was a quote by Harriet Tubman: “ Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world."

The closing speeches were written and delivered by Aida Pabello and Jesus "Ziggy" Dominguez.


Aida Pabello

The world: a place full of different cultures, different religions, different people. As an individual, we only make up one out of billions.

Harriet Tubman tells us we have the power to change the world. Should we really believe we have the power to change the world?


Because we are not changing it, we are changing ourselves.

Ourself.  This is the only person we can control one hundred percent of the time.  Since the beginning of time, humans have always tried to change other humans to their own perfect image. But, we need to take control of what we can--ourselves.

Too often, we are not thinking about strengthening our own character because we are too distracted creating someone else’s perfect image.  When we do this, we lose our own goals, so it’s time we rise above it.

Looking around, we do not see the same people we saw on the first day of freshman year. Some have left and others have given up. But not us. We used our school to our advantage.  Some told us we were small, worthless, and dumb. We challenged them with our math team, beat them with our baseball team, and became a school that is still transforming itself.

Now, it’s our turn to transform ourselves.


 Jesus "Ziggy" Dominguez

It’s easy to forget what it means to be a dreamer. For a while I thought it meant something simple, to have a goal, to want to go somewhere and that was enough to fuel our deepest hopes and desires. It wasn’t until a fateful conversation with my father that I realized that being a dreamer meant something so much more.  My father is man of few words. It’s rare to see my father in a serious tone but when he is, you can feel it. His voice grows deep, calm and powerful. His words become piercing.

One day, during a big argument we had, he kept insisting that I didn’t know how to truly appreciate things, that it was a shame that I didn’t know the value of sacrifice. All of our parents have been through heartbreaking struggles, some that we will never have to go through. My father believed that those struggles were necessary to go anywhere in life. I panicked, because it shattered my early expectations of how life was supposed to be.

Was each step forward one to be taken stumbling?

My father’s words would echo and it wasn’t until recently that I understood what they meant. We have to keep trying to achieve our dreams, no matter how hopeless it may be. So that one day we may break free from the constraints of ourselves and others.

Our potential is infinite.

Some say that we are stardust. On occasion, we find ourselves yearning to become something more; we wish to join our stellar brothers and sisters. We find ourselves lost in a world that does not welcome us and become crushed under the immense pressure of it all.

Yet, like stardust, it is only under these extreme conditions that a spark can form. We exist in a cosmos that is not obliged to conform to what we want. But if we can endure the gravity of such a harsh reality, not even the grandest objects in the night sky will ever dim our radiance.

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