A salute to the class of 2015

Meet the valedictorians from high schools across the Valley. See where they are going to college in the fall and listen to some of their inspiring, poignant graduation day speeches. Indeed, the future looks bright.

Aaron Drew
New Community Jewish High School
University of California, Berkeley

“It will soon become impossible to have meaningful relationships if we continue to allow our virtual selves to steal time away from us. We must take back our lives from the virtual. We only have so much time.”

Eliav Gabay
New Community Jewish High School
Arizona State University

“Though there will be doubters along the way, we have to keep believing in ourselves. As long as we always stick by our true identities and remind ourselves that no one can take that away from us, the tough times in life will seem clearer and ultimately easier to deal with.”





Veronica Hughey
Notre Dame High School
University of California, Los Angeles

Amelia Miller
Harvard-Westlake School
Harvard University

“How should we think about what we want to get out of the next four years? The answer may require us to rethink much of what we’ve used to define ‘success’—until now. What matters is not just where we will end up but the distance we traveled.”

Dina Hamer
Viewpoint School
University of California, Berkeley

“Too often do we find ourselves dreaming about the future and dismissing everything currently going on. The future will inevitably come, so it is foolish to rush through the present and potentially miss memorable experiences. So, fellow graduates, I ask of you to slow down and take it all in.”


Morgan Anker
Sierra Canyon High School
Washington University

“We are now more than ever citizens of the world. Whether we like it or not, the sheer fact of existing as 21st-century teenagers places us on a global stage. We upload, we Google, we like; we search for a definition of ourselves through the shared platform of social media.”






Harrison Rosenberg
New Community Jewish High School
University of Puget Sound

“Regardless of how any of you view each other or how you feel about someone, I want you all to understand that our time together meant something. And if the four years we all spent in high school together was not nothing, all of us have a connection and that must mean something.”


Shani Erdman
Milken Community High School
Wesleyan University

“Regardless, remember that the beauty of the future is that it is unknown, and that the discomfort of uncertainty is the most precious part of the experience. Never forget that if you can feel comfortable not knowing, you can learn anything.”

Genevieve Waldorf
El Camino Real Charter High School
Harvard University

“In high school, we discovered that as we learn and explore new aspects of life, we become more vulnerable to confusion. We have matured over the years and have finally come to the realization that confusion is just the step before mastery. Whether in school or out in the real world, confusion is good because it means you are only one step away from understanding.”

Michael Okene
Ulysses S. Grant High School
University of California, Los Angeles

“You are the architect of your future, and believe it or not, the friends and acquaintances you’ve made over these years have laid out the blueprints. They’ve influenced you in an infinite amount of ways, and they’ve shaped you just as much as you’ve shaped yourself.”






Natalie Yakobian
New Community Jewish High School
University of California, Los Angeles

“High school is hard on the heart … There’s all the breakups, makeups and multiple screwups. We’ve all said hello to firsts and goodbye to lasts, and there are times when our hearts have felt like they’re being torn apart. But like any muscle, a little tear is the only way for it to grow.”

Ian Costello
Crespi Carmelite High School
University of California, Los Angeles

Elaine Luterstein
Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies
University of California, San Diego


Jessica Quach
Taft Charter High School
University of California, Los Angeles

“It will be really difficult when we say our goodbyes for college, but I know that we can always return for winter break to resume our unbreakable friendships, as well as to witness our newly-sported freshman-15s.”

Somnath Ganapa
Van Nuys High School
The College of New Jersey






Sara Wilson
The Buckley School
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“One of the main lessons I learned in high school was to set my goals high even if they seemed ridiculous and impossible to achieve. By setting my goals high, I learned that achieving the goal was nowhere near as valuable as the experiences I gained when I kept trying.”


Radhika Bhatt
Campbell Hall High School
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The force that drives all of us, through school and life alike, is a desire to discover something. To contribute something to human existence. And so, I have decided to study physics because I believe it can help me crack a portion of the puzzle we all strive to solve.”



Jesus Hernandez Torres
Van Nuys High School
California State University, Northridge

Cecilia Kirkpatrick
Highland Hall Waldorf School
St John’s College

“The music I enjoy listening to, such as Bach, gifts me with ever-flowing melodies, harmonies and emotions, but written works such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet gift me with a string of words with which I can imagine my own beautiful music.”

Casey Gardner
Highland Hall Waldorf School
Harvey Mudd College