Good evening everyone! My name is Janelle, and I’m humbled to be standing here representing the graduands of 2019. Words are not enough to express the privilege to be part of this batch of graduates, who each has an inspiring story to share. From struggling with our fears, dramas, doubts and personal issues, to overcoming them, we certainly have come a long way.
I believe that we all have loads of fond memories from our journey in Victory Life. I certainly do. It brings a smile to my face whenever I recount moments like erasing the colorful words written on my PACEs by “you know who you are,” listening to a dear friend practice her Aussie accent almost every day, hearing one of my classmates shout “Fire! Fire!” in class, sitting beside Conrado (who insists that I mention his name in my speech), exchanging countless texts with a supervisor about waiting for the right one (wink wink), and experiencing the Regional and International Student Conventions. Finding out that I was chosen as the valedictorian was definitely a big moment for me. If you had told me five years ago that I would be graduating from high school – let alone as a valedictorian – my parents and I would have thought, “Impossible!”
Five years ago, I was drowning in anxiety, eating disorder, and plagued with suicidal thoughts. I came into Victory Life broken and rejected. Trapped in the past and negative thoughts, coming to school every day was a struggle because I was constantly fearful and anxious. I remember how I used to stand outside the door in the Balestier campus, trembling as I struggled to even ring the bell to enter the school, and I had to work on my PACEs in the conference room instead of being in the Learning Center. However, those days are so far behind me now. In the past, I used to dread break time, during which I would always hide away in quiet places, silently crying by myself. But break time has since become a huge anticipation of the day for me, a time when I can put aside PACE work and just enjoy the company of my friends. I remember that I used to break down at the mere thought of having to be around people and would even go to the extent of hiding in the reception room during chapel time. Now, I join in chapel and engage in many school activities, including the recent International Student Convention held in Missouri. It’s ironic how I used to be fearful of making friends and opening up to any supervisor when I first entered VL, because I have not only made lifetime friends but gained another family here, who each has played irreplaceable roles in my transition from despair to hope. It’s also amazing how out of them are also a few whom God has used to inspire me to want to bring hope and education to under-privileged kids. You guys know who you are. You have a long-standing place in my heart. Pa and Ma, you are included.
It has been a journey of growth, filled buckets of tears, and buckets and buckets of joys. I came into Victory Life empty and broken, but I have since been filled by God with love and hope and I can only give Him the glory for my transformation. Throughout, I have learned that we mustn’t allow our past mistakes to define who we are, because transformation is possible and nothing is beyond hopeless. As Corrie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”
Graduates, would you join me as I reflect about how far we have all come? Through this journey it is evident, for me, that there was never a second that God was not with us. We have become more than conquerors through God’s ever-present help and mercy in obstacles and through His unfailing love that drives out fears when we draw close to Him.
And to my fellow school mates: God has already begun a good work in you, and He will bring it to completion and fulfill His plans and purposes for you. Keep walking with Him. You are priceless to God.
So, friends, I was just wondering… Why don’t we begin availing ourselves to live out our destiny in Him? Why not let us live for dreams and visions far beyond ourselves, sculpted by God in love? He’s calling you. I’m in this, so why not let us all do it together?
Thank you, and all praise and glory to Jesus!
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