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Alex Torres Headshot

Never Stop Learning

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Alex is the valedictorian of the senior class of 2012 at Timber Creek High School in Orlando, Florida. This is the speech he gave to his peers and the school community on his graduation day.

I stand here today because of a number: my class rank. A mere number that only signifies one thing: I fit a system better than anybody else, but not a whole lot more. And because of that simple fact, I call upon each and every one of you to look ahead and work for the future. Just like everything else in our lives, the future will hold what we reap from it. In order to get all that we can out of our respective futures, we need to do two things: Recognize the constants in our lives, and not be afraid to leave.

Recognize, and more importantly appreciate, the people that have remained consistent in your lives, whoever that may be. For me, the most important of these constants has always been my mom. I'd like to take this moment, in front of thousands of people, to acknowledge the incredible job this woman has done for me and all of those around her. She has been my rock from day one and I don't know where I would be without her undying love and support. So go ahead, do the same with your constants and show them the love they deserve.

In addition, I want to encourage everybody to leave without guilt. Those constants I mentioned will always be in our lives no matter where we end up. Only a few of us will find that our perfect niche is in Central Florida. High school will quickly become part of the distant past, so let's not be afraid to get out, explore and discover what fits us best in the world. More than likely, that process will lead us away from here, and that's perfectly okay. It isn't about leaving what's behind us, but rather, looking forward to what's ahead of us.

I want to reiterate that the high school system fit me particularly well, but by no means does it measure who we will be 10 years down the road or even define who we are now. The world does not abide by any one system and there is success out there for each and every one of us. By keeping those constants close to us and taking risks, you can break free from restraint and be an incredible success -- all while maintaining a support system that has the potential to help you grow. My best piece of advice is to recognize that, as human beings, we will never stop growing and never stop learning.