Welcome Address

Before we get started today can we make some noise for the class of 2024! Hello, everyone my name is Adrisela Forero. I just want you to look at where you are and understand that you’re only here because of the steps you took day after day to be able to walk across this stage.

From the moment you walked through those doors as a freshman, you couldn’t wait till this day. No matter how many bad days you had or mistakes you made, you were here to get your hands on that diploma. That’s the purpose: the end goal. You made that a reality. Being able to accept change is hard; life is hard. We all are here together trying to make our way to be something one day. Everybody has a purpose, and in high school you discover what way you, out of all the people around you, can make a mark on the world. I think we’ve all had those tough moments where we felt we wouldn’t be able to make it through and didn’t want to continue.

This may be your last time being a part of the collective group of people around you, but this just means the future is closer and brighter. This is the start to a journey you create in your own unique way, like a path you build hand over hand, step by step. Don’t be scared to embrace your passions and put time and dedication into what you want to pursue. It’s hard to say goodbye to the great educators and friends that may have pushed you through these years to your full potential or even given you enough encouragement to get by daily. Even though this chapter is coming to an end, your years and stages of life here will always be with you.

It was hard finding words to say within this speech, but I knew I wanted to relay some type of message that could stick with at least one person here today. I have learned a lot since I walked in this building my freshman year to now and even since I was a child. I sat down to figure out what I could say and as I dissected the parts of my life, there were 3 mental tools I want you all to really think about when you leave here today.

From the moment you are born your brain starts to store information from surroundings to individuals. My story is the reason why you should appreciate your parents for all they do. I came from an abusive household that consisted of 2 mentally unstable parents. I raised myself and day by day, I aimed only for survival, rather than appreciating and living life. I built myself to be the woman I am today, and I took back the ability to control my story and build a world worth living in. Although I suffered severe child abuse, I was dedicated to being a better parent and protecting my daughter with everything in my body. I had the ambition to defeat any battle that comes with getting an education and being the head of the household, a provider. Child abuse is all about people trying to silence you, and I was silenced for many years. Eventually, I found my voice and overcame my struggles, and now I’m working to be a voice for other survivors. So my first lesson is, despite how your life started in childhood, you can persevere and create the ending that you want.

Growing up with people who I called “family” never actually showed me what unconditional love was. I was not able to experience this until I became a mother, a role model, and had the opportunity to have control over my life once and for all. I am open to learning new things and sharing what I’ve learned in life. I’ve learned that people who are labeled as family can’t always show you the support and love that you need. My heart pours out to Megan Caprenzi, who opened her own family and heart to me and my sisters. Whenever we needed anything, she was there. She is an honorable human being who has really shaped my life in a better direction. So, my second lesson to you is that you have the power to choose and create your own family made up of people who want to see you grow and succeed. Hold onto those people who gave you that second chance in life.

People know of me because I have a child, but a select few looked over assumptions to get to know who I am as an individual. After years of trauma, I forged my own path by building courage, independence, and endless resiliency. The odds were against me, but I am proud to stand here and say that I am not only graduating high school, but I will also be attending Endicott College this fall to study Psychology. I plan to become a child psychologist to help children who suffer with PTSD and abuse. Which brings me to my last lesson: be who you are despite anything, and never cease to make your dreams and goals come true.

Life can connect you with people that help give you strength to keep going. People that inspired me and helped keep me going were the Melrose guidance team, especially Ms. Pizzotti. She was the driving force in my life, she helped me not only academically but personally. She is my inspiration. She helped me build character, she was dedicated to helping me do better for myself. I really appreciate these people for putting their time into helping me and my daughter. I’ve lived in a shelter since I was 14, and the team helping to manage the home have practically raised me throughout high school. They believed in me, and pushed me through all the struggles that came my way. So, I’m so thankful to Tara Bentley, for being my backbone when I needed it.

Life seems like it passes slowly, but it goes by quickly. I bet you can’t remember the last time you were in gym class with your friends, sitting in a parachute bubble, or the last time you got out those colorful rolling scooters and played fish in the gymnasium. So what I’m trying to say is, embrace every stage of life.

In the words of Nicki Minaj: “go to school, graduate, get your own; because when it’s all said and done, people can say what they want to say about you, but they can’t take it from you.” I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Congratulations to the class of 2024! (period)