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USC Valedictory Address: Class of 2016

Presented by Lilly Deluca

“Just Do It”

The motivating, anti-procrastinating, wise words of Shia LaBeouf, or was it Lisa Temple… I can’t exactly recall. However, I can exactly recall sitting in that Napier lecture theatre, questioning myself, ‘Can I Do It?’ But now, standing up here tonight, sharing this address with all of you, my peers, friends, family and teachers, I know I did it. I know we did it.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those here tonight. While I firmly believe that we drive our own success, none of us would have made it here tonight if it wasn’t for the endless support of our families, who have been forced to endure the irritability, complaints and occasional meltdowns that accompany year twelve, and the commitment and dedication of the teachers and staff here at USC. The more that I reflect on my time at USC, the more I realise the integral role of the teachers, not only as educators and fountains of knowledge, but as mentors, role models, and friends.

I am in awe of the achievements of the diverse group of people graduating tonight, both academic and otherwise. And yes, the emphasis here is on diverse, as that is exactly what we are. Together we represent over 65 schools; we represent the North side, the West side, the East side, the South side; we represent so many talents, passions, cultures, beliefs, political interests, and ambitions. In fact, what startles me the most is, how such an eclectic crowd of people could be so united. One out of four quotes on BrainyQuotes.com will tell you that this is because ‘in diversity, there is strength,’ and I believe them.

Starting USC, on the very first day, and playing that very first game of Getting-To-Know-You Bingo I wondered where I fit in to this new and exciting realm, as I’m sure we all did. But it definitely didn’t take me long to realise that ‘fitting in’ is an obsolete term at USC. In the words of comedian Kevin Smith, ‘controversial as we all know, is often a euphemism for interesting and intelligent’. Our differences are what make us interesting, and are what drew us to each other in that very first game of Getting-To-Know-You Bingo.

While, this year, we have to some extent fallen victim to the same routines of past generations; stress eating, sleep deprivation, excessive caffeine consumption, and repeat… our year takes procrastination to a whole new level. You’ve all heard of leaving an assignment to the last minute, or studying the night before the test… but what about starting the essay the morning that it’s due. As someone once said, ‘if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done’, an apt eleven-word summary of the past year for some. You know who you are. Yet, I am incredibly proud of the work that we, as a cohort, have produced.

That’s not to say that at times it hasn’t been challenging. In fact, year twelve has presented the ultimate challenge, the challenge of balancing commitments, maintaining a social life, keeping up part time work, saving the bees, studying, running meme pages, meeting assessment deadlines, getting the recommended nine hours of sleep per night, waking up ridiculously early to put on makeup for that 8am mentoring session because you know Nadia will have her camera out, and then trying to keep all of this in perspective, remember your ATAR doesn’t define you and make a decision about what you want to do for the rest of your life. It’s been exhausting, and mixed with tears, hysteria, and moments of darkness. No, literally, the entire state was plunged into darkness.

Fonder memories of the year include the surprise appearance of Charlie the dog in the English, Psychology and Politics lectures, early morning, mid lecture and afternoon coffee stops, the opening of level two and ground at Jordan, appropriate (and inappropriate) memes for every occasion, and as foreshadowed by Kylie Jenner, just realising stuff. The formal, the production of Ten Red Kings, last years’ Roses of Eyam, many charitable bake sales in the hub, and the year twelve art show will also remain significant memories.

Now we are sitting here tonight, stuck in what feels like a dreamy limbo between school and what the future holds, soaking up the sun, picking up some extra part time work, partying hard (some harder than others), and appreciating the little things that for the past year have felt somewhat out of sight. We are caught in a period of important decision making; whether to continue with study, or take a gap year, whether to go to uni or tafe, or join the workforce, whether to stay in Adelaide or move interstate, or overseas. Our paths are divergent, and each fraught with new challenges, both exciting and scary.

That said, I guess I’d better hurry up and get to the intent of this speech, the part where I assure you that this is less of a farewell, and more of a commencement, and then proceed to offer some wise words as to how you might go about approaching the real world. But I’m not so sure I know more about the real world than any of you graduating tonight, and in the words of John Green, I’m not so sure that this ‘so-called real world is any more or less real than the one in which we’ve found ourselves so far.’ Maybe if this was any other school, and not USC, I could offer an abstract and cringe worthy graduation cliché; “believe in yourself,” “success is like a mountain,” “question everything”.

But for most of us, USC has been more than just a mere institute of learning, not that this isn’t a great thing in itself, but it’s also been an opportunity; an opportunity to take control of our own lives, starting with our education. Since most of us made the decision to come to USC ourselves, it’s clear that we already believe in ourselves, and that we already know what it means to drive our own success, without an obscure simile about a mountain. During our time at USC we have become, more than we already were, aware and critical of the world around us, and so I know that I don’t have to worry about us questioning everything.

On that note, my advice to the class of 2016 is simple, and stolen from the influential children’s author, Dr Seuss.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Thank you

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