Dunn: Winning - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Dunn: Winning

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Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 8:00 am | Updated: 12:35 pm, Wed Dec 3, 2014.

Good evening. My name is Zac Dunn, and before I begin I would just like to take a quick moment to thank all of you from coming out and sharing in this momentous day. I know I speak not only for myself but for every other graduate here when I say that in reaching today, not a single one of us has done it alone; we've all had the irreplaceable support of friends, faculty, and most importantly, family. So on a night that is so concentrated on us, the graduates, I would ask for a round of applause thanking everyone who helped us reach this moment.

So without further ado, before crippling nervousness, fear, and anxiety completely overtake me, let's begin.

Now, as I sat at my desk, writing, I asked myself, what would I like to hear in a commencement address? Funny anecdotes? Quotes from famous men? Life changing advice? I suppose all those would be welcome, as they seem to be the prevailing elements of many speeches. What gives me some sense of relief, however, is that any adult I've asked remembers not a single word from their commencement address, so should I irreversibly butcher this speech; odds are that in a few years not a single person here will remember.

But I would like to start by speaking about something else: us. All of us. Any person here will agree that high school is no easy task, which is why this night is so special; it is not the fact that we managed to pass the required number of courses, but to celebrate the immense transformation that has occurred in each and every one of us since we first stepped foot on campus four years ago. We're here to celebrate that we have survived the great and terrible ordeal that is adolescence: The hormones, the stress, the unrequited love, the struggling to fit in, the rampant insecurity, the crippling fear of the future, the self-consciousness and above all the unfathomable fear of a bad hair day. And while we still have a ways to go, let's take tonight to celebrate the fact that we are undoubtedly through the worst of it.

Now that we've taken a quick look back at our time here, let us now turn our attention towards the future. This moment is thus far, the greatest precipice of our lives; we stand at the edge of limitless possibilities . . . so pick one. Pick a dream – because these next few years will be one of the few times in our lives that provide the opportunity for complete and sudden change with few consequences. Decided you would rather paint than study biochemistry? Do it. Perhaps space exploration sounds a bit better than accounting. Or maybe nuclear engineering strikes your fancy more than underwater basket weaving. Pick a dream, and then change it.

Because according to Stephen Colbert (and this is the part of the speech where I quote famous men) "Thankfully dreams can change. If we'd all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don't achieve it, you haven't failed and you're not some loser- but just as importantly- if you do get your dream, you're not a winner." And if you only remember one thing from what I've said, please let it be that idea, that failure doesn't make you a loser, and success doesn't make you a winner. Because "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously, that you might as well not have lived at all; in which case, you've failed by default." Winners are not people who find success time after time in all their endeavors. Winners are the people, who fail time after time after time, but they never give up, - and they never give in just because things are getting hard or because they fear what others will think of them, because a lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep. Winners are the people who after trial and tribulation, finally succeed, and then immediately move on to the next challenge, because ''just okay" isn't enough for a winner. Winner's settle for nothing short of extraordinary. And if my four years at Skyline High School have shown me anything, it's that every person sitting in front of me tonight is a winner. And finally, after nearly half a decade of memorizing formulas and equations, I'd like to say that the most important formula, the one to success, doesn't exist. There is no secret path to wealth or power. There is no equation by which to live your life. All that any of us can do is try our hardest in everything we do, to live in an unrelenting pursuit of what makes us happy. So if each one of us here tonight, decide that "tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther, ... and one fine morning',' wake up to find that we've achieved everything we set out to, I stand here in unwavering assuredness that the Skyline High School Class of 2014 will be one that is talked about for a very, very long time. Thank you.

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