On May 15th, Esperanza Academy High School hosted their Senior Awards Gala. The night celebrated the many achievements of the Class of 2021, honoring their intellect, dedication, athleticism, and character. The student speaker for the evening was Triniti Freeman, who was nominated by her fellow classmates to speak as a positive representation for the Class of 2021. She did not disappoint. She received a standing ovation at the end of her inspirational dialogue. Please read the copy of her speech below:
“Who am I ?
What am I doing ?
Why am I here ?
The three questions that 2020 left us to answer. Being in our rooms alone, we did not have teachers to motivate us, authorities to discipline us, or class/sports to unite us.
We were left to sit in silence, look at our ceiling, and really find our purpose. Some of us may have already figured out our purpose, but others may not have. This hesitation includes the fear of rejection or to receive a “no”. May I remind you that the reality of life is that you will receive more no’s than yesses.
These no’s are not just literally people saying “no”. A “no” could include a minor setback such as the transition to online learning. Or a major setback such as a loss of a family member. Or even social conflicts such as racism, discrimination, immigration, etc. that surrounds us wherever we go. It can be easy to allow setbacks to take over and cause us to lose motivation.
But, ladies and gentlemen, may I remind you of one of the greatest actors– Chadwick Boseman who was known for his phenomenal role as Black Panther. In 2016, he was, unfortunately, informed to have colorectal cancer. No one knew. During this illness, he starred in Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: End Game, Marshall, etc. He could have retired as an actor and did anything he wanted in his final days. But he didn’t. He didn’t stop smiling, he didn’t stop acting, he didn’t use that as an excuse to stop. His “no” was the day the doctor had to tell him, “We’ve done all we could. There isn’t anything else we can do.”
If you had a loved one who suffered from an illness and passed away, these words aren’t strangers. In my case, my grandparents, Mary Darlene & Nazario Burgos, received the same “no” in their lives.
In 2013, I remember being at Temple Hospital, leaving my grandmother’s appointment, and heading onto the elevator with my mother and my grandmother’s doctor. My mom practically begged them to do something to save her but instead of a solution, we were told that she only had SIX more months to live… which quickly turned into TWO.
And just last month, April 28th, 2021, I lost my grandfather due to liver failure while having COVID.
But this is what Chadwick, my grandparents, and your loved one who you may have lost had in common. They knew that they could not change what was happening to them, they could only control how they react and what it meant to them. They knew their purpose and they decided not to set themselves back but to push through it as best as they could because they were no longer living for themselves.
I know what you’re thinking. ”Well, Trin. That’s Chadwick. That’s your grandparents.”
“You probably haven’t been through anything first-hand.”
“It’s easier said then done.”
Well, I remember in March of 2020 where I felt a lump in my left breast. After two different hospital visits, they stated that it is nothing serious. Because it had smooth edges, and it was about 1.5 centimeters, they stated it’s benign and I don’t have to take any action. Then in Sept, 2020. I went back in for my six month check up. The nurse was quiet the entire ultrasound and had the radiologist explain to me that my tumor grew, it created rough edges, and was no longer considered benign. I had to go into immediate surgery for what I thought was one tumor in my left breast in Oct, 2020. After that surgery, came another appointment in Nov, 2020, we found out another tumor appeared, this one had rough edges and they discussed that the better option for me was to do surgery again so that it doesn’t duplicate or become something worse.
I declined it because I had the mindset of “I don’t even care anymore. I don’t want to go through with this.” I remember going home that day, grabbing a piece of paper, probably teared a little, about to write my funeral plans and then I stopped. My niece was calling me and I answered.
She goes “Hey Trin, just called to say I love you.” That is when I remembered who I was, what I was doing, and why I am here. I went with the surgery it turned out to be two extra tumors but I DON’T CARE! Because I am standing right here tumor-free, currently playing softball even though they said I may not be able to. THIS was a setback that tried to stop me but because I knew my purpose, and I did not fear failure, I am able to do anything I want and be whoever I choose.
This being said, do not fear failure or receiving a “no”. Fear the regret of not taking the step to fulfill your purpose. When you receive a “no,” do not question yourself, do not become insecure, do not lose the motivation it took to build that courage! 2020 was our “no.” But I am so proud to say that although some looked at 2020 as a setback, you used it as an opportunity to become hard workers and bosses. For my fellas, I notice some new businesses, new jobs, becoming better athletes, etc. For my ladies, some of you may work. I also see some nail techs, eyelash techs, fashion designers, and so much more. Or maybe you are working hard on college or your next step in life which is totally fine.
To end, we will continue to use those “no’s” and setbacks as fuels to go harder. We are ready for them to give us a “no.” We are ready for them to not accept us because of our skin tone, ethnicity, background, education, beliefs because they will see us work harder than ever before to prove them wrong and to stand our purpose. We started off this education journey together. We did relay races, spirit week, and performed sports together. Despite the difference between one another, we still won two (could have been three) years of Spirit Week together. We are here together. We are leaving together. But do not be saddened or worried, because we will stay together and find our purpose together. We are EA’21 , and we will not let them forget.
To close this off, we’re going to leave them with our famous chant .
If you would like to read more about the Gala and see several photos, click here for the Impacto‘s coverage of the event: https://www.impactomedia.com/featured/esperanza-academy-class-of-2021-celebration-gala/.
Featured Image taken by Emily Malara.