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Eric Soza gave the salutatorian speech at A.C. Jones
Jun 03, 2009 | 1484 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eric Soza
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Good evening. I am both humbled and honored to have the privilege of speaking to all of you tonight. Being up here makes those nights of endless homework and sleep deprivation almost seem worth it.

Diploma, it’s such an amazing word, and an amazing idea. This piece of paper. . .this education that Beeville ISD has provided us, is just the beginning; it’s the basis for the rest of our lives. Edward Koch said, “The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse. Let it burn, let passion’s flame take you wherever you need to go to find your true place in the world.” Webster defines passion as “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” Perhaps the fact that both my parents are educators explains why I have always been passionate about education and sports. Being the little brother enabled me to emulate those whom I was around... those being great teachers and coaches along with many great athletes that I grew up idolizing. For obvious reasons one can say I grew up being a “gym rat”. Getting back to my original message... The passions for family, for friends, for hard work, for competition and for life in general are qualities that I have always held close to my heart. I was taught at an early age that nothing good in life ever comes easy... there is always a price that comes with anything worth having. This high school diploma comes with a price... the price of sacrifice, perseverance, dedication and hard work for a worthy cause. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you want to do with the rest of your life... but what does matter is that you do it with passion. Go to college, go to tech school, become a member of society’s workforce... whatever you decide to do with the rest of your life just do it with a burning desire to be the very best you can be. The people who love you and support you deserve the very best from you. You owe it to yourself to give it your all. Do not be satisfied being mediocre. I have often heard my Dad mention my great-grandpa Gomez and how he was a janitor at the elementary school which he attended. He talks about how his grandpa took great pride in his work and how he was the best janitor at his school, how he took great pride and comfort in knowing that whatever task he had you could bet it was going to get his undivided attention... my great-grandpa was passionate about his line of work. I challenge all of us to be passionate about life. If God blesses you with a family, be passionate about the love that brought you together, be passionate about being a dad or mom; do the very best you can and always do it with enthusiasm. Life is not going to be easy... we will receive our fair share of curve balls or bumps along the road...but we must know that we have teammates, and we do not have to travel this journey alone. We have family and friends who love us dearly and are there to assist us just as our mom was there to rub or kiss the hurt ‘til it put a smile back on our face. Most importantly we have our God. Rely on Him for inner strength and comfort. In my room I have a poster titled, “To Achieve Your Dreams Remember Your ABC’s.” I will not go through the entire alphabet but here are a few of my favorite:

•Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits.

•Believe in yourself.

•Don’t give up and don’t give in.

•Enjoy life today, yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.

•Family and friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches.

•Hang on to your dreams.

•Take control of your own destiny.

•Want it more than anything.

•And last but not least, You are unique of all God’s creations, nothing can replace you! Whether it’s a passion for sports, art, music, politics, business, the sciences, or whatever it may be, it is that passion that will drive you to succeed, as you have already done by just being here tonight. And that is what I must say as well. Your heart and passion is your drive, and your education, your key. Use it as a springboard to launch yourself into your future and to guide you throughout life.

It was mentioned at the Barnhart awards assembly that we should also learn to give back to our community... give back to others who have given us so much in return... I challenge all of us to be ambassadors of community service and to always remember where we came from. Some of us may go on to bigger and better things... some may become famous doctors, lawyers, politicians or possibly a famous actor and who knows maybe the next president... others of us may choose to serve our country by joining a branch of the military... and still others may choose the work force and begin to make an immediate impact on society... whatever the circumstance remember that was not always the case. We owe it to our communities and to future generations to give back a little of ourselves to help make this world a better place.

However, before I wrap up this humdrum speech, there are a few more people, who mean, a lot to me, who I must thank; for without them, I would not be standing here at this podium right now, shaking like a leaf and picturing all of you in your underwear. First and foremost, I want to thank God because without Him none of this would have ever been possible. Next is my family. I want to thank my brother, Justin, for always helping me through tough situations and for always being there when I needed you. You have always been my role model and I thank you. Thank you, Felicia, for being a prime example that hard work and determination do pay off. You too have always been there when I needed to talk. And to my parents, oh there is so much to say but unfortunately, Mr. Reyes said I only have six minutes to talk. Personally, I think he is scared I will steal his thunder. It is impossible for a child to tell their parents how much we truly appreciate them. Thank you mom and dad for always having that unconditional love for me, even when I forgot to clean my room, wash my clothes or forgot to take out the trash on trash days... oh dang, today is Friday isn’t it? Sorrrry again. You two have taught me countless of things, but what I have learned most from ya’ll is about how to love; the love the two of you display for each other, for your work and for those around you. You have taught me to love people for who they are and to be grateful for the things that I have. My deepest wish is that one day I will have a family similar to the one that we have right now. Thanks Mom and Dad... I love you. To all my relatives...you know who you are...thanks for being there... I love you too.

Although too many to mention, I would like to thank every teacher who had anything to do with my education. Each one of you has played a significant role in my education. I must however mention a few of you starting out with my kindergarten teacher, Ms. McBride, and her infamous Brown Bear stories during story time. To Mrs. Coffin, Ms. Miller and Mrs. Koepsel, for staying in touch over the years. I must also thank Mrs. Koepsel for introducing homemade vanilla ice cream during an activity in which we made the ice cream in her classroom. Also thank you to my fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Talbot, who first challenged my higher level thinking skills by making me learn fifth- and sixth-grade math by myself. At the time you were my hardest teacher I had ever had, but it was all well worth it. Thank you, Mrs. Dominguez... I had never heard of valedictorian or salutatorian until you said I’d be one. Thanks for inspiring me. I want to thank the rest of the Mathis Independent School District teachers and administrators who helped me through my first eight years of education. Next, I want to thank the legendary Mr. Hanus, for helping me to look deeper into the meaning of mathematics. Even though I doubt we will need to know exactly why the Taylor series of expansion exists, you still drilled it into us. Mrs. Huffman: for putting up with 3rd period’s abuse about your Power Point mistakes and depressing data about our affects on our planet Earth. Mr. Belew: for making science entertaining through your jokes and laughter and for being the teacher who understood what kids were going through. Ms. Thornton: for not caring about my bubble space and making your class fun. To our coaching family: for teaching me life lessons through sports, for the encouragement and support and for being the best... thanks for the wonderful memories! To my classmates and teammates: I thank you for welcoming and accepting me as one of your own five years ago... I will forever be grateful.

Teachers and administrators: thank you from the bottom of my heart...we might not say it enough but your efforts are greatly appreciated...thank you for being educators. Support staff: you are here before the sun rises making sure, we, the students, have the very best school district around... thank you for being passionate and for the hard work you do. Last, but not least, thank you to the Beeville community for playing an important role in the successes of this the Class of 2009.

I leave you with one last thought titled, My Creed by Dean Alfan:

I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon...if I can. I seek opportunity — not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the State look after. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of Utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master or bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations, to face the world boldly and say: “This is what I have done.”

I am truly proud of everyone and I wish all of you the best of luck in your future endeavors. WE DID IT!!!
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