THE BLOG
05/26/2014 03:13 pm ET Updated Jul 26, 2014

I'll Never Be As Good As Gwen Stacy

Thank you administrators, faculty, staff and family members for joining us today to celebrate the graduation of the amazing Class of 2014.

I'm so honored to be up here speaking to all of you, and not just because it has been a lifelong goal of mine to feel like Gwen Stacy from The Amazing Spiderman.

And I have to admit, there is a part of me still hoping Andrew Garfield is going to show up.

Seriously, I'm deeply humbled and honored to be part of the Class of 2014, so much so that I spent a long time staring at a blank computer screen trying to figure out what to say.

So in the long-honored tradition of commencement addresses, I'd like to begin with the words of someone else.

Iconic American actress Judy Garland, best known for her work in The Wizard of Oz, once said, "Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else."

Dorothy was right, but still I struggled with this idea for a long time. In grade school I tried, and quit: swimming, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, volleyball, track and field, ballet, jazz, softball, and cheerleading. also was convinced I would become a doctor, since I wanted to help people. But I didn't like these sports, and I am terrified of blood and needles, so I was failing at these ideas of who I should be, instead of chasing what I loved.

But at Naz I found golf, a sport I actually had some talent at, and even more, that I enjoyed. And while it wasn't the most conventional sport, it fit me, and that's why I loved it, and loved the people I played with. Naz is also where I found my love for the written word. It was when I was working on the research paper sophomore year that I first read the sentence by Harold Goddard, "The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in." It was in that moment, working on a paper we had all been complaining about for weeks, that I realized sometimes a pen can save someone just as much as a scalpel can.

At Naz, I found me, and the passion to become the first-rate version of myself. And while it really is an amazing honor to be standing up here in front of all of you after all those days junior year staying up till 3 reading about the Truman Policy for APUSH, or about mitosis for biology, I can't help but feel a bit like the final scene of Mean Girls when she breaks the crown and starts throwing pieces into the audience.

Because even though most of us came in here freshman year, like I did, terrified and unsure of who we were supposed to be -- 213 of you are sitting here today in cap and gown and you are the first-rate versions of yourself.

There are those of you who are D1 committed athletes. You shatter records in golf, tennis and track. You practiced for hours and hours, woke up early for workouts, went to two a days, ran suicides, pushed past mistakes and losses and you should be so be so proud of the athlete and the person you have become.

There are also those of you who decided to try a new sport senior year. You knew you would have to go through hard practices and probably wouldn't play much during varsity games, but you were still brave enough to branch out and try something new even as your time at Naz was ending, and that's quite remarkable.

Some of you were an integral part of Naz sports, although you were never on the roster. After four years of roller coasters, black out's, blue outs, white outs, pink outs, banana cheers, and believing that we will win, I think it's safe to say that the Freddie Fanatics are the most supportive and energetic people Illinois high school athletics have ever seen.

There are members of this class who excelled at history fair. Those who take breathtaking photographs. There are those of you who write poetry, who write novels. You are best friends, older sisters and little brothers.

And none of you are just one thing. Among you is a math genius who writes poetry, football star who also performs on stage, fierce lacrosse player who is also fiercely compassionate with her work in campus ministry, a poms dancer who excels in the biology lab as much as she does on the stage.

It's a regular East High up in here.

It's important to acknowledge that none of us would be the first-rate version of ourselves without the people that have lifted us up and allowed us to flourish. Of course this starts with our parents. So thanks mom and dad, you actually are the coolest people I know. I might not admit that a lot so enjoy it.

But the Class of 2014 also has a second family to thank for helping us become the amazing people we are today. So thank you to everyone at Naz, for teaching us inside the classroom, but also outside the classroom through various academic clubs and activities.

Teachers, classmates, friends, family: people touch our lives in a lot of ways. Some of your lifelong friends are in this room; there are also some people you will never see again.

No one wants to be the person to say that.

When I graduated 8th grade, we had a speaker who challenged us to say goodbye instead of see you later. I didn't really listen then.

But just because people are in our lives for a finite amount of time does not mean they cannot be infinitely important to us.

Time is how we measure it; you can split a minute into 100 million segments, then split those, then split those ad infinitum. This means a moment is as long as you want it to be, it is infinite. And meaning something to someone in a moment, being the one who asks a classmate what's wrong when they come into homeroom worn down, making a friend laugh so hard they cry, listening to someone when they feel alone, picking someone else up when they fall, these little pieces make up lives.

We often hold the negative moments in our hearts, a criticism of our hair, a bad grade, a fight. We can't let them go; it's an annoying part of human nature. But it's the moments of compassion and hope we should hold on to; those are what unite us long after we walk back out those doors. Those are what hold us all together as time and space separate us.

So after years of tree books and tests and six research papers, of reading The Awakening, geometry proofs and chem labs, I have one more assignment for you. I've mentioned quite a bit how much I have fallen in love with words throughout high school, and my assignment is actually my favorite words I heard at Nazareth Academy:

All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.

Kiley Roache's valedictorian speech was originally delivered at this year's Nazareth Academy's graduation.

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