Gabriella Valencia: “Only YOU can make the decision to better yourself.” (Tucson, Ariz.)

Date: July 19, 2018

Since opening in 1996, more than 3,000 young men and women have earned their high school diplomas at Ombudsman Arizona Alternative Charter Schools. The Class of 2018 saw 306 students earn their diplomas – our largest graduating class ever!

For many students, Ombudsman offers the best path to help them overcome personal, economic, or academic challenges as they work toward their degree.

We’re featuring the commencement speeches of four Tucson-area graduates from the Class of 2018 here on the blog this month.

This is Gabriella Valencia’s Ombudsman Arizona Charter success story.

“Hello, and welcome everyone to the graduating Class of 2018. Let me just start off by saying it’s an honor to be speaking on behalf of our 2018 class. Some of you may not know me and most of you actually don’t know me.

My name is Gabriella Valencia. I am not actually a senior, I’m graduating as a junior. Which technically I guess it does make me a senior. Anyways, I would first like to thank Ombudsman Charter High. Not only for stepping in and saving our school Hiaki High, last summer it was on the verge of not being a school, but I would also like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to accomplish my goal, which was graduating a whole year early. I took over 16 classes this year. I even stayed double sessions, so I could be standing here right now at this moment. I set this goal for myself because why four years of high school when you can make it out in three? Just kidding. No, I set this goal for myself because life just decided to hit me with a ton of bricks.


We’ve all been through the struggle or have struggled in some parts of our life. I saw my struggles and I knew that education was my only way out of them. It feels pretty good to be able to put high school graduate on my resume.


We’ve all been through the struggle or have struggled in some parts of our life. I saw my struggles and I knew that education was my only way out of them. It feels pretty good to be able to put high school graduate on my resume. No more school guys! Like finally! 12 long years. “Sheesh”. I hope I’m not the only one here tonight feeling such a rush. Then after all this, we’re going to go home tonight, hopefully you make it through the night. You’re going to wake up the next day… you may have your life planned out and know what to do next. Whether it’s going straight to college or into the workforce, that’s definitely a good start.

But if you’re like me. You have a vague idea, but most likely you’re gonna wake up the next morning and be like “Now what?” that’s where this quote comes in. “life is what YOU make it.” Because life is literally what YOU & You & You make it! Only YOU can choose to make the decision to continue to succeed in life. Only YOU can make the decision to better yourself. Only YOU can drag yourself down, you shouldn’t ever let ANYBODY else drag you down. Find people that will lift you up! That will guide you. People that will make you a better and stronger person. But in the end, it will always be up to YOU. So tonight, I challenge each person of the class of 2018 to make a better YOU!

All of us sitting here have something in common. Not just the fact that we’re graduating tonight, but the fact we all had the same MOTIVATION, the same EDUCATION, the same COMMITMENT to get us all here tonight. So, as I finish, I would like to congratulate all students here on stage “The Class of 2018!” Thank you.”


Categories: Success Stories
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