Ursuline News

Graduation 2023: Valedictorian and Salutatorian Speeches

Read excerpts of the speeches given by Valedictorian Theresa Tran and Salutatorian Katrina Lam at the Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2023 on May 21, 2023.

These excerpts will also appear in The Texas Catholic.

Excerpts from Theresa Tran's Valedictory Address

Our Intramurals theme this past year was the Wizard of Oz. A farmgirl named Dorothy realizes there’s no place like home; a scarecrow proves he has a brain; a tinman discovers his heart; and a lion builds his courage. I realize that we, the class of 2023, have a similar story as these characters in discovering our own strengths and growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

In our classes, we have overcome the challenges of deciphering DNA replication in Biology, grappled with the enigmas of the unit circle and trigonometry in Math, and pushed the boundaries of our creativity in English. Our academic pursuits not only encouraged us to strive for excellence but also nurtured our ability to think critically and consider different perspectives. In doing so, we developed our minds. Whether it be singing the song “Oceans Where Feet May Fall” at our school Masses, or praying in adoration at class retreats, we learn the importance of a strong faith in God to keep our hearts and souls grounded. By keeping God at the center of our lives we are inspired to live out the spirit of Serviam. Through opportunities like Senior Service, we value human dignity and solidarity because we see how everyone is made in the image of God. In doing so, we nurtured our hearts. And as we have matured in mind and spirit, we have been on a journey of courage. It feels like just yesterday when we found the courage to wear green fobs in the presence of intimidating seniors. We were resilient during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we persevered amidst the challenges of junior year. Through these experiences, we have built up courage as we prepare for college and the future’s uncertainties.

Ursuline: Thank you for being our home for these past four years – you have been there for us since our first steps on campus, and you will continue to be there for us as we take our final curtsy. Thank you for believing in the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion within us; providing an environment for us to develop our talents; and inspiring us to use our talents for the greater good....

As I look at all the young women gathered here, I catch glimpses of our journey together. I see the bright smiles exchanged when we saw each other in the hallways between classes; I hear the deafening cheers when we (only) won volleyball for Intramurals; and I feel the lingering hugs as we all cried our eyes out after reading our parents’ letters at our final Senior Retreat. I remember how so many of our friendships began by having the same classes, mutually despairing over an upcoming test that we had yet to start studying for (speaking from personal experience), and breathing a sigh of relief when the test was done and in God’s hands. Despite such struggles, I witnessed our class persevere and excel in academics, athletics, music, performances, and art. As I look at you, my fellow graduates, I see women who have the potential to be future leaders in whatever they set their hearts to.

Excerpts from Katrina Lam's Salutatory Address

I want to take you guys back to almost 4 years ago: we were just little freshmen, hopping out of the car after getting dropped off, hesitant and scared walking up Freshmen Entrance to shake hands with Ms. Kane and high-five Walnut the Bear on the first day of high school. We had no idea what we were doing. But only 7 hours later, we were surrounded by the giant seniors, learning the entire freshman dance that we would perform countless times throughout the next 4 years. I will never forget how we happily screamed, “AY AY COURTNEY!”...

We may have walked up the steps of freshman entrance on the first day of school not knowing what in the world we were doing or WHY we were doing it, but as 4 years went by in a blur, each moment that we’ve shared with each other transitioned us from just “going with it” to understanding the value of service, of commitment, and love.

Whatever we want to do in the future, whatever dream we have for our lives, we’ll keep remembering to have intention, love, and purpose amidst the repetitive nature of daily life, just like we did here, in our time at Ursuline.

So continue to be in awe of all your little moments. Don’t live on autopilot, and don’t let life be just a checklist to be ticked off or a long to-do list on your Google calendar. It’s easy sometimes to get lost in the routine, day in and day out, of only thinking about each and every goal as a chore to your ultimate dream. So make sure each experience within the process of reaching your dreams is filled with conscious intention.

With this mindfulness, working won’t feel like work, and everything becomes much more enjoyable and fulfilling. I am so glad to have shared these years with you all. Keep deciding to find the value in what we do, in serving others, and in the beauty of the seemingly monotonous – but actually pretty remarkable – day-to-day.

I don’t need to tell you to make sure to live your OWN life, not someone else’s, just like I don’t need to advise you to not be afraid of chasing those random and bold dreams. You guys already knew that.

Ursuline taught us how to find meaning behind chasing our goals, and we can extend that everywhere we go. Because that’s who we are as a class – we’ve got a purpose, to serve and always root our actions and words in that same vigor with which we shouted our salute to Courtney.

Thank you for making these four years so memorable, and ultimately so meaningful.