Congratulations, 2017 Valleydictorians!

Our annual salute to the valedictorians of the Valley as they head off to college. Indeed, the future looks bright…

Cameron Aaron

Bridges Academy

Connecticut College

I hope to use all my skills to create a better world—one where being divergent is celebrated and every person feels safe to be themselves. I encourage everyone to raise their voice. Stay true to yourself and let creativity and passion drive you to find your heart’s calling.””

Henri Stern

The Buckley School

Stanford University

“I’m a little worried that we—the youngest of the millennials—may be becoming the generation of meh—the generation of overblown, manufactured, internet outrage with nothing to back it up. My worry is that I have landed in the apathetic generation. We are supposed to be the generation to change the world, yet 38 million eligible voters in our generation stay at home on polling day.
We complain about policy, the direction of our nation, and the myriad of problems gripping this country and this earth, and yet we don’t do the most basic of things to stop events from going in the wrong direction. In a few years, we will be the most politically powerful age demographic in this country and we need to start exercising that power. This is not about being liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, independent, libertarian or socialist. This is about being actively engaged.”

Katie Chiou

North Hollywood

High Brown University

“Thanks most of all to my mom, who not only will do the heavy lifting when it comes to tuitions, but also believed that I could get into great colleges and sat through my touchiness during application season. I’m excited for the independence and exploration of college, taking all the classes that I can manage in whatever subject I so choose, whether it be raising plants in a lab for medicine or finally joining an a capella group. It’s a great place to be in—a senior waiting for graduation. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Gift Riley-Norman

iLEAD North Hollywood

University of California, Los Angeles

We’ve been taught that a one-size-fits-all model must to be applied to all of our relationships. But every person is different and so is every relationship. Luckily this isn’t the only approach. It is only through the conscious pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement that we can realize the full extent of human happiness.”

Jason Muljad

Crespi Carmelite

University of California, Los Angeles

When I stepped into the corridors of Crespi, I was queasy and I felt unsettled. I stepped out of a community that I relished as home and I flew forward into a future that allowed for great expectations. Wide-eyed, somewhat fresh-faced and absolutely clueless, I did not know much about the ideals of being a Crespi man, much less understanding the complexity of brotherhood. It took me four years and a retreat with K138, but I’m proud to say that the neophyte who once cowered at the prospect of talking to crowds has become a confident Celt that has so much love for this school and the guys right in front of me.”

Brendan Rose

Harvard-Westlake School

Yale University

Teenagers tend to think of old books, or even old people, as completely irrelevant to their lives. Especially with self-driving cars and artificial intelligence on the horizon, society only seems to look ahead. But I know better. I looked to the past, and it helped me move forward.”

Lorenzo Sampson

iLEAD North Hollywood

Columbia University

I came to this school where students are free to express themselves and where teachers and staff trust us enough to give us more independence and responsibility than we’d be able to get anywhere else. When I first got here, it seemed too good to be true. Never before had I been to a school where teachers cared so deeply about their field, their students or just teaching in general. I think the faculty and their closeness with the student body are what make this school so damn exceptional, and I think we owe them a huge thank you.”

Christina Boatwright

Campbell Hall

Johns Hopkins University

The future will entail that we use the intellect we have gained throughout our education but will also teach us something in every experience it hands us. As we step into the years to come, it is important that we take with us all that we have learned and keep an open mind to the wisdom that is waiting for us.”

Kourosh Ghaemmaghami

Crespi Carmelite

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

In the words of Randy Pausch: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” High school has been a roller coaster. Although sometimes the cards we were dealt weren’t the best, we all played beautifully to get to this point. I have each and every one of my peers, all 118 of my Crespi brothers, to thank for helping me through the tough times and helping me in getting to this point. I have to thank them for helping me to play my hand properly. I never thought it was possible for a bond this powerful to exist.”

Richard Liu

Highland Hall Waldorf School

University of California, Santa Cruz

‘Honing gives a sharp edge to a sword, and bitter cold adds keen fragrance to plum blossom.’ This poem is one of my favorite Chinese poems. Since I made a decision to study abroad, I have experienced a lot of changes and difficulties. In the past two years in the U.S., every time I’ve been badly shaken by the unknown quantity around me, the poem has helped me to get through the rough times. It also inspires me.”

Grady Shoemaker

Bridges Academy

University of California, Santa Barbara

Abigail Urbina

Providence High School

University of California, Los Angeles

There is a fine line between being irrational and being dauntless. Never let the fear of failure prevent you from venturing out of your comfort zone and exploring new things. Always continue to be open-minded and willing to take risks, because you never know what life has in store for you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because no matter how vulnerable you may feel at times, these learning experiences will help you grow. You alone hold the pen to write the script of your life; don’t let others take that pen from you.”