PROSPERITY — Be proud of your accomplishments thus far — but this is only the beginning. That was the message Danielle Brandon gave the 165 members of the Mid-Carolina High School’s Class of 2015 during their ceremony Friday night.
Brandon, a MCHS graduate herself, told the graduates that there are a lot of transitions in life but none of the transitions she made in her life, like going to graduate school, were easy.
Looking to her own life experiences, she gave them three pieces of advice: seize opportunities, stay focused in the face of challenges and embrace change.
“Use every opportunity that comes your way,” she said. “By doing so, you will learn about yourself, the job you are going after and life in general. This will help teach you which path is right for you.”
She related the story of a summer she worked at Disney World. She had to be at work everyday at five in the morning. Although it was hard at first, she worked through it and the opportunity helped sharpen her work ethic.
Challenges, she said, are going to arise.
“You are maybe not going to get quick success, and you will work harder for it,” Brandon said. “Stay focused, and do not listen to those negative thoughts in your head, or negative people around you.”
During her time in graduate school, Brandon said she surrounded herself with like minded people who would encourage her. She urged the graduates to do the same.
Brandon said that when she began the path to her career field of medical research, she was rejected by multiple programs and began to listen to the negative thoughts in her head. But she went after one more program and found success.
For every new opportunity, she said, there is a new challenge and with those challenges comes changes to dreams and goals, which is OK.
“It will be a challenge, but embrace change and believe in yourself,” she said.
Valedictorian Bailey Doolittle told her fellow graduates that the only person they should try to be better than was the person they were yesterday.
“Becoming better than you were yesterday boils down to one thing — change,” she said. “When we came into high school, there was change for everyone, new experiences, losing and gaining friends and so much more.”
She told them not to let the fear of change pull them back because after graduation, what they do with their lives is up to them.
“This chapter in our lives is over, but our story is just beginning,” Doolittle said. “The mark we left on Mid-Carolina does not compare to the mark left on us by Mid-Carolina.”
Salutatorian Hailey Mundell told her fellow graduates to not do anything half way because there will be someone wanting their spot.
“If you are going to college, and especially if you are going to a bigger school, thousands apply and do not get in. If you only work half way, they may take your spot,” she said.
She also urged them to make sure they live without regrets. “The past is unchangeable. We only have the future,” Mundell said.