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Class of 2022: Commencement Speech from a Never-Valedictorian

On Friday, my baby dumpling graduates from high school. Her last year of high school has made me feel introspective. I've been thinking a lot about the young Lyssa, who was unconventional, misunderstood, middle of her class grades-wise, and ALWAYS overlooked.

If I ever did one thing right in my life, it was to change my mindset upon graduating high school. So, on graduation day, I decided that I no longer had to be the person my peers or the faculty believed me to be. Instead, I would become the me I knew was inside me; Student Government President, honor student, and writer for the newspaper.

I deemed myself worthy of being anyone's friend, including a friend to myself. Suddenly the popularity that had eluded me in junior and senior high was mine for the taking. I found that not all people were worthy of my time, not the other way around. It was life-altering.

So here I am, thirty-six years later, writing the commencement speech that nobody asked me to write, but I think it has valuable lessons. At the very least, it reminds me of the principles that guide my life.

So here goes…

Today you get to decide who you will become. You no longer have to fit your square peg into the round hole your school and peers put you into for the last thirteen years. Your future is yours and yours alone to mold.

My tips for succeeding in life:

  • You determine your destiny. Believe that in the deepest corners of your heart.

  • Find your gift (we all have one, so find it!). Then, nurture it every day because it will lead to your destiny.

  • Work hard. Don't be afraid of hard work, as great satisfaction comes from a job done well.

  • You will fail from time to time. However, fear has no place in failure because defeat leads to profound lessons and eventual success.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically. We cannot be everything for ourselves or others.

  • Advocate for yourself. It is acceptable to demand respect. You are worthy of it.

  • Hold on tightly to courage. This world takes intestinal fortitude and a bottle of Tums.

  • Use kindness instead of cruelty in all aspects of your life.

  • Embrace humor. Laughter will cure almost anything.

  • Make connections with people. It is all we have in this life.

You have it in yourself to make a difference in this world. So grab what is yours and enhance the future for all of us.

I believe in you. Now believe in yourself.

What advice would you share with the Class of 2022?

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May 18, 2022

Great reflection to the 17 year old Lyssa.

i would have written to 17 year old Ann..

Do not let fear or doubt hold you back.

Believe and you will achieve!!

Within hold the power, you determine your future, you and you alone can create your life.

1. Do not let fear/doubts hold you back

2. If you fail, theres always a lesson learned.

3. Do not let past "labels" from teachers/peers define who you are


Just do...its better to do something rather than nothing!!


Linda DiRubbio
Linda DiRubbio
May 17, 2022

Wow Lee! You are AMAZING! That was Beautifully written! Congratulations Hadley! 🎓


Eileen Maguire
Eileen Maguire
May 17, 2022

What wonderful advice to your gorgeous, bright, and intelligent daughter. She looks so like you, her beautiful Mother in this photo. I wish I heard this advice at seventeen. Beautifully written.

Replying to

That means a TON coming from you Mama Eileen!

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