Class of 2019 Valedictory Commencement Address

On May 31, 2019, the CRSM community celebrated the Class of 2019.  The evening started with a Baccalaureate Mass at Most Blessed Trinity in Waukegan, followed immediately by the Graduation ceremony.  The Class of 2019 Valedictorian Paola Martinez addressed her classmates at Graduation; the following is a re-print of her remarks that evening.

Buenas tardes, de parte de la clase del 2019 de Cristo Rey San Martin les quiero dar la bienvenida a todas las familias, amigos, miembros de Cristo Rey, socios corporativos, y las comunidades religiosas que nos apoyan . Para los que no me conocen me llamo Paola Martinez y tengo el placer de estar aquí hoy representando a la clase del 2019 de Cristo Rey.

Good Afternoon, on behalf of Cristo Rey St. Martin class of 2019 I would like to welcome all families, friends, staff, corporate partners, and endorsing communities.

For those of you who do not know me my name is Paola Martinez and it is my pleasure to be standing here today representing the Cristo Rey St. Martin class of 2019.

Como han notado he elegido dar mi discurso en español y lo he estado traduciendo al inglés a la medida que voy hablando. Originalmente, había planeado dar este discurso sólo en español porque quería recrear lo que mis padres sienten cuando están en un cuarto sin saber una palabra de lo que se está diciendo. Pero, he optado ser mejor y hacer este mi propio discurso dándolo en español e inglés.

You have probably noticed I have chosen to give my speech in Spanish and have been translating it to English as I go. Originally, I had planned to give this speech only in Spanish because I wanted to recreate what it felt like for my parents having to sit in a room without knowing a word of what is being said. But I have chosen to do better by making this speech my own by giving it in both languages.

Unas de la lecciones más importantes que yo aprendí en estos cuatro años es no tener remordimientos. No tener remordimientos de la persona que soy y que representó. Yo, la hija de dos padres inmigrantes representó la esperanza para mi familia, siendo la primera, junto con mi hermana gemela, persiguiendo una educación superior. Como otros graduados, hoy aquí, somos los primeros, pero no los últimos. Por esto, le pido a los graduados hoy que nunca se olviden de donde vienen y lo que representan. Nunca olviden sus raíces como miembros de la comunidad de Waukegan, su idioma y todo el trabajo duro por el que pasaron nuestros padres para ayudarnos a estar hoy aquí. Tristemente, una vez creí que mi cultura hispana era una carga, pero al estar aquí, rápidamente cambió mi mente. Yo sé que si no fuera por las mujeres y los hombres  fuerte que están detrás de mí, yo no estaría donde estoy hoy. Debido al clima político que Los Estados Unidos está enfrentando ahora mismo, es nuestro trabajo abrazar todos nuestros diferentes orígenes y verlos como privilegios.

One of the most important lessons I learned out of the four years being here is to be unapologetic. Unapologetic to the person I am and what I represent. I, the daughter of two immigrant parents, represent hope for my family by being the first alongside my twin sister pursuing a higher education. Like many of the graduates here today we are the firsts but not the last. This is why I asked all the graduates here today to never forget where you come from and what you represent. Never forget your roots as a member of the Waukegan community, your language, and all the hard work our parents went through to help us be here today.  Sadly, I once believed my Hispanic culture was a burden, but being here quickly changed my mind. I knew that if it weren’t for the powerful women and men behind me I would not be where I am today. Due to the political climate the U.S. is facing right now it is our job to embrace all our different backgrounds and see them as privileges.

A este viaje que nos vamos a enfrentar, no llegamos solos sino con un gran grupo de personas que nos quieren mucho.

A nuestros padres: Todas esas veces que no recogieron de la escuela, nos hicieron nuestro almuerzo, nos plancharon la camiseta, o nos fastidiaban que estudiaramos o hiciéramos nuestra tarea, sepan que todas esas cosas pequeñas hicieron una gran diferencia y nos ayudaron a tener la oportunidad de estar aquí hoy.

A nuestros amigos: Gracias por el apoyo

A los miembros de Cristo Rey: Gracias por ayudárnos a mejorar y apoyárnos  Especialmente gracias, a todos los maestros y consejeros por todo el apoyo que nos dieron durante el proceso de aplicaciones universitarias. Todas esas cartas de recomendaciones y el apoyo que nos dieron para corregir nuestros ensayos hicieron toda la diferencia…

The journey we are about to embark upon, we did not get to this point alone but with a large group of people that love us.

To our parents: All those countless times you picked us up from school, made our lunch, ironed our shirt, or nagged to us to study and do homework, just know those little things mattered and they helped all the graduates be here today.

To our friends: Thank you for making these four years memorable and offering lots of love and support. For being there to cheer us on during one of our games, to attending all the events we planned. Like the staff vs. student game, the NHHS dances, school plays, etc. Just know you made this experience much better through the encouragement you offered to help us strive to become our best selves.

To the school staff: Thank you for helping us grow and being there for support. To Dr. O., thank you for leading Friday Assemblies and sharing with us little stories that reflected GRIT. You have made it possible for us to strive to have this characteristic in ourselves. To Mr. Kendall, thank you for welcoming Junebug and Ruby into our community – just know we all love them dearly. To Campus Ministry thank you for helping us become people for others by organizing various religious and volunteering events. We have all developed a mindset to always try our best to lend a helping hand. To Ms. Ruiz thank you for being patient with us during all those times we were late to school and especially thank you during our senior skip day when you answered all those calls and we made your job a little crazy. To the teachers and counselors especially thanks to you for being great role models and giving us many words of wisdom through these four years. Especially thank you for all the help and support you gave us during the college process. From writing recommendation letters to helping us edit essays, know you all made the difference.

To all my classmates: after today, please take the time to thank all those special people in your life. This is just the beginning and the next four years will be difficult but you have a large group of people cheering you on.