My name is Paulo G. Peña. I would like to apologize in advance for any stutters I have; I have a slight fear of public speaking, and there are more people than I thought there was going to be, but I will try my best for the people.
At any time in your life you have the choice to be who you want to be. In the wise words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “It's never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find you're not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.” Maybe you were not the best student in high school, or the most athletic, or the most outgoing, but you are not your past mistakes or past failures or past shortcomings. You have the power at any time in your life to say “this is not how my story is going to end” and completely change your life. Theoretically, this sounds amazing, but life is not that simple. To change your life requires your will to improve, your dedication, and your commitment of yourself. Fellow graduates, this is the perfect time, as you start a new journey in life, to choose the path that will lead to the individual you aspire to be or the change you long for in this world. Choose wisely.
Understand this change is going to be different and being different from the “norm” or other's perceptions of you can be utterly terrifying sometimes, but it can also be awesome. You may be afraid of how others will treat you, or how they will truly feel about you; however, if I had one single regret in life, it would be that I allowed my fear of what other people think of me to influence and sometimes even rule the person I acted as, who conflicted with who I wanted to be. You are not defined by what others perceive you as or how they define you, but rather how you define yourself. Only you have the power to decide who you want to be and what you want to do with this one life. So live it beautifully; live a life that makes you proud, and makes you proud of yourself; live your dreams, your inspirations, your true friends who will always be by your side no matter what, your family, your religion, your sexuality, your taste in music, clothes, and art; be proud of all of this because that is who you are. Do not let the fear of rejection hinder you from becoming the person you want to be, because as spoken by one famous pop singer of our generation, “forget the hater's because somebody loves ya.” — Miley Cyrus. You do not need the people who only seek to judge you or condemn you for the path you have chosen. There will always be someone to accept the new individual you become; somebody that loves you. When you find these people, hold on to them, because you will make few true friends in life. I know that I am so blessed to find more than a few of these friends in my own life, and I would like to take a quick moment to thank those people who accept me for who I am. I hope that you all find people who will do the same for you.
My time with you all is ending soon, so I want you to remember this one thing: do something with this life you were given that means something to you, because you only have this one. Class of 2014, our paths may diverge from this point on, but I wish you all the best in whatever life you choose, and I hope you all find the person you can be proud of. Thank you ladies and gentlemen, and to my fellow graduates, congratulations, you are all amazing individuals.