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Meet Kaw Thang Bu-New Bern High Valedictorian
New Bern High School Celebrates Kaw Thang Bu, Valedictorian
Each year, Craven County Schools features the closing remarks from the valedictorian and salutatorian from our traditional high schools. This year New Bern High School is proud to introduce Kaw Thang Bu as the valedictorian for the class of 2023. Mr. Thang Bu had an opportunity to deliver his speech during the graduation commencement on June 9, 2023, at New Bern High School. Students, families, and special guests were elated to have the chance to celebrate the Class of 2023 outside, on a very beautiful, crisp morning. As each graduate walked across the stage to receive their diploma, you could hear the joy and happiness expressed by all in attendance. Please enjoy Kaw Thang Bu’s speech as we celebrate the Class of 2023 and all their achievements this year.
Valued guests, distinguished faculty, proud parents, and- most importantly, us, the class of 2023, let us all give ourselves a moment of recognition and appreciation for our accomplishments. For us graduates, completing the final chapter of primary education through grades K-12 despite the many shortcomings and obstacles that we have encountered. For our teachers and staff members, whose undeniable efforts were tailored towards each of us, leading us to this very moment. And for our guests and parents, who supported us throughout our journey; and most importantly, successfully navigated the traffic to get here. We are truly grateful for the work that all of you have put in to help us grow not only smarter and stronger, but also wiser.
Before I begin the main portion of my speech, I would like to mention that each one of us has our own upbringing, which shapes our identity and story. My parents are from the Chin State of Myanmar and immigrated here over 20 years ago. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize the sacrifices that they’ve made to ensure that me and my siblings have opportunities for success that they didn’t have. Coming from an immigrant family helped in building my value of hard work and grit, and each of you, my fellow peers, also have values shaped by the important people in your life that will carry on with you for the rest of your life. So, a special thank you to my mother and father, who came to America for the sake of me and my sibling’s futures.
Anywho, it is time for my 3-minute awe-inspiring message to everyone. Graduating from high school may have felt like a burden has been lifted off our shoulders. However, it is merely preparation for what is to come in our life journey. Whether you plan to dive straight into the workforce, pursue post-secondary education, or decide on something better, make sure to always remember who you are at heart, and most importantly, remain genuine and sincere- not only to others but mainly to yourself. [pause] I remember entering high school for the first time as a freshman about 4 years ago and thinking to myself, “Man, this place is massive, what can I do to stand out?”. At this point in time, my priorities were not set correctly. I tried sports to raise both my ego and popularity, but that obviously did not work. Why? Because 1. I was built like a skeleton (and I still somewhat am) and 2. Being an outstanding athlete is not the type of person I had set out to be, and this quality was unattainable without having both a commitment and passion for sports. It was after my first year of high school that I realized that who I wanted to be and who I currently was did not align.
At that point, I took a good look at who I was- an indoor goblin who preferred to stay inside and play games all day. But even that came with its own unique qualities- my strong competitiveness, and my commitment to get what I wanted in the end. With that in mind, I decided to change my goal to something more befitting, and rather than working towards becoming noticed by others, I worked to better myself and prepare for university by taking as many college-level courses as possible. To do so, I sacrificed sports as well as most school activities for academics, as I would be taking mostly classes outside of high school. While I was giving up my high school experience and the fun of being in class with my peers, I reaped the rewards of stressful all-nighters and cramming information into my brain. As I continued taking college courses, I realized that my GPA was one thing that evidently stood out. This sparked a long-term urge for competitiveness, further fueling my motivation to take more classes and pursue my academic prowess. Flash forward to today, and I stand here having both attained an associate degree as well as this medal of honor.
Now, while this may sound like an expression and flaunting of my achievements (which I’ll admit, it partly is), there is a key takeaway that I want to share with everyone. To work hard and set goals that suit you both as a person and as the kind of person you want to see yourself as in the future. That is what I meant earlier when referring to being genuine and sincere to yourself. I had wrongly set my goals towards trying to stand out amongst others and fixed them by working to better both myself and my future. You are not meant to be anyone else, and no one has the ability to properly assess or decide your future. To end things off, here’s a quote from last week’s newly released Spiderman movie by the character Miles Morales: “Everyone keeps telling me how my story is supposed to go. Nah. I'm-a do my own thing.”. Do your own thing and do it for yourself. Thank you all for your time.