Garret Hegel
Garret Hegel

Good evening Brother Frank, Brother Ralph, Mr.Fales, Mr. Nunan, Mr. Meehan, Mrs. Szablewski, (pause), Board members, Faculty, retired faculty, members of the class of '68 (pause), parents, family, friends, and, of course, my brothers in the Class of 2018. 

If there is one thing I have learned from thirteen years of Catholic education, it’s that nobody likes a long homily, so I’m going to keep this short.

About a month ago, Mr. Nunan asked me if I could write this speech. I nodded my head in agreement. “Yes, absolutely” I said with the unshakeable confidence of a CBA student. Then immediately after leaving the room, I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to write a valediction speech. So, like any good CBA student, I went to google and typed “how to write a valedictorian speech.” The number one thing that the google search gave me back was “pick a theme that you care about.” So that’s what I’m going to do. The theme I want to talk about is opportunity.

Opportunity surrounds us here at CBA. It’s in where we can go to college. It’s in the classes we can take and how well we do in them. It’s in the clubs that allow people to find and pursue their passions. It’s in the success of our sports teams, and it’s in the community of students that genuinely cares for each other. Everyone at CBA has had some combination of a family that supports your every move, teachers who genuinely want to see you succeed, coaches who bring out your positive qualities, and friends who care about you as much as they care about themselves. But beyond the opportunity afforded by CBA, everyone sitting here is more fortunate than that. The world we come from has dealt us a good hand. We are from one of the most affluent areas in the country. We hear that you can achieve anything you set my your mind to, and for the guys in this room, that is the truth. The world we come from does not limit our success. For four years we have seized upon opportunities to succeed, but that was only possible because the world around us presented those opportunities. We are incredibly fortunate for that.

Now, there is nothing wrong with having this fortune, but with it comes an obligation — an obligation to manufacture opportunity for those who have not had the same opportunity as us. As fortunate as we are, there are plenty of people who are equally unfortunate. It is our responsibility to create opportunity so that other people can share in the opportunity presented to us. We have been tremendously lucky, but now the time has come to make something out of that.  The time has come to expand our fortune to include more people. It’s not enough to be grateful. It’s not enough to say thanks; counting your blessings does nothing for anyone else. Your families, your teachers, and your friends have given you so much that if you don’t return the favor to other people, then you’ve squandered those gifts. We owe it to all the people who have made this graduation day possible to be men who drive the success of others.

This might be somewhat of a lofty goal, but it is entirely achievable. Soon, the members of this class, the CBA class of 2018, will be positioned to be the architects of opportunity. I look out and see a group of men who have the potential. For four years, I have had the privilege of walking the halls with the members of this class. I have seen firsthand future professionals, future businessmen, future leaders, future husbands, and future fathers, and I know for a fact that we are capable of this ambitious challenge. So that’s how I choose to end this speech, with a challenge. I challenge all of you here, the CBA class of 2018, to make opportunities for others.