OneGoal cohorts typically spend every school day together starting their junior year of high school until their graduation and separation to go to different colleges or postsecondary programs. OneGoal – New York hosted a graduation bash for the high school class of 2018, where Fellow Chantel shared the following parting words of advice.
I always heard that building resilience is an important part of both growth and change, but I hadn’t realized the true value of this statement until now. Class of 2018, as we transition from being high school students to incoming college freshmen, I must say that alongside our determined Program Director, Ms.Valencia, and the extraordinary OneGoal team, we have taught ourselves that there is no limit on the things that we can achieve and conquer, not only in the classroom, but also in the realms of the world. We have taught that limitations, similar to fear, are often just illusions.
Being a part of this OneGoal cohort has instilled in me lifetime values and lessons that will stick with me. For this reason, I will mention that no matter where your chosen path or destination may be, never forget the following five principles:
1) Embrace who you are.
No matter where you come from, or what nationality or ethnicity makes up your background, nothing will make you stand out more, or take you further in life, than simply being you. As once famously said by one of my favorite childhood authors Dr. Seuss, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
2) Rise above and lead by example.
Allow yourself to take in the fresh air that life may bring you and let go of ANY negativity that may hinder your present or future success. Allow your mind to elevate you beyond what you may know. Allow yourself to smile. Allow yourself to be the greatest version of yourself that you can possibly be, because YOU matter and YOU are needed to make the world a better place for the generations that are to follow after us.
3) Keep an open mind and listen.
But more importantly, learn from others. A lifelong learner is a lifelong winner.
4) Reach for the stars.
No goal or aspiration that you may have is too small or invalid. 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 and change the world.
5) Finally, your voice matters.
As stated by Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
So without further adieu, Class of 2018, you are phenomenal. We have come a long way, but keep in mind that this is only the beginning and we must continue to persevere and move with grace through the challenges that life may bring us. Although it is easier said than done I will leave you all with this quote from Chuck Yeager, the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound:
“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.”
November 26, 2018
Robert Emmons joined OneGoal as a Fellow in 2009 looking to improve his life and his community. Almost 10 years later, he’s completed the program, experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows in college and given back by joining OneGoal staff. As he looks toward his next professional step, he now reflects on each step of his journey and how they defined him.