DAYTONA BEACH -- Nice guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they finish second. Such is the case with Salutatorian Drew Walker who encouraged his classmates to endure as they face the realities of a 21st-century world with an entrenched economy where those planning to attend college will have to deal with higher tuition rates and decreasing financial aid.
Walker, the No. 2 student overall in academic achievement in the class of 400, reminded them of their "journey dotted with defining moments" from pre-school through high school -- the "first car" on the 16th birthday, the "first gray hair" with the SAT tests.
"Some of us came from New Smyrna, some from Edgewater, some from Samsula or Oak Hill," he said, but on this day, all of them will enter the real world in the face of adversity with the entrenched recession.
For those choosing to immediately furthering their education, the adversity includes shrinking state and federal aid and increases in tuition. But he affectionately pointed out that in the past, the collective class has shown its characteristic apathy to those who put up walls: "So what?"
Every graduating class has challenges.
"How did the class of 1980 adapt to the highest unemployment rate since the 1930s?" he asked, adding for that matter how did the graduating classes of the Great Depression deal with adversity?
Walker answered, "They did as humans always do... they found a way to survive."
He continued, "It is from failure and setbacks that we learn to measure ourselves in order to guage the distance we must travel to satisfy our need for self improvement."
"It is from failure and setbacks that we learn to measure ourselves in order to guage the distance we must travel to satisfy our need for self improvement."
Walker added, their will be failure and success along the way, with true success building from the lessons learned from failing and the ability to achieve goals.
Walker implored his classmates to go beyond the humdrum of existence: "Let us as a graduating class go further and find a way to thrive."
"Let us as a graduating class go further and find a way to thrive."
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