Valedictorian Amanda Rizzo

  • Inhaling deeply before she spoke, Amanda Rizzo was about to fulfill one of her greatest dreams—one that spanned more than four years of personal academic commitment.

    She had always dreamed of standing before the "incredible Class of 2010 —as its Valedictorian—to demonstrate "the power and necessity of having a goal.... Goals keep us driven, they give us direction, they maintain our focus, and they teach us, time and time again, that hard work and willpower are needed.... Well, my dream came true; here I am. And I’m sure all of you are proudly celebrating the achievement of your goals too. We are graduating! This celebration today belongs to all of us."

    In her address, entitled Map the Course, Amanda expressed how "honored" she felt. With a "rush of emotions," that included "excitement, pride, sheer joy, and nostalgia," she was now bidding farewell to her classmates of twelve years and "the school that instilled in me the unceasing desire to set lofty goals and affect change in this world."

    Examining the diversity of dreams that for some included "serving alongside the incredible men and women who protect our lives," Amanda assured her fellow graduates that "no matter how big or small… our dreams become our goals when we rely on ourselves to achieve them."

    "The journey is the destination," a teacher once told Amanda. "The path to achieving a goal is just as important as the actual achievement itself. And what’s a journey without having a little fun?" Recalling fond memories and experiences with her classmates, Amanda admitted, "We are so much more than our GPA. It is not the grade that makes us who we are. WE make the grade feel rewarding by truly working towards achieving it."

    Acknowledging the importance of her family, teachers, and friends who supported her goals with wisdom and guidance, Amanda shared parting words with enthusiasm. Encouraging all to dream big, and embrace failure as part of growth, she stated: "Get out there, live life, and never lose sight of what makes you happy. Travel, learn, laugh out loud, discover new interests, help someone in need, take time to appreciate the world around us, the people who surround us, make an impact, and SET A GOAL!"

    In the confident voice of one realizing a dream, Amanda extended her "profound congratulations," wishing the Class of 2010, "success and happiness as you begin the next chapter of your lives!"

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