Student Voices: 2016 Graduate Speaker Eman Khwaja

--International Connections Academy Legacy Speaker--

Welcome students, parents, teachers, and guests to the graduation of the class of 2016! My name is Eman Khwaja and I am the legacy speaker for this year's graduation. I spent a long time trying to decide what to talk about. I am being very honest when I say that I truly had no idea. Some graduation speakers give advice about future plans, I am unable to do that because my future plans are not completely set yet. I am still learning how I will build my life and my success, just as the rest of you are. I considered talking about the many people who helped us get here today, a thank you is necessary for us to give to our parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and everyone else who worked behind the scenes to make sure that International Connections Academy (iNaCA) runs smoothly throughout the year, and while they are very important, we worked hard and we want to look towards our future today. I thought about spending the next few minutes going on and on about things like how cool we tried to be in an online school and how we won't measure these years by the numerical treasures like our GPA, grades, and our SAT or ACT scores, rather our friends and the lessons we learned. However, we all know in ten years we will still be thinking about our SAT or ACT scores, along with our friends. I finally decided on talking about how the future of our society and our futures interlock.

Today we are graduating from an online school. This school is just one piece of proof of the advances our society has made. Our graduation today is possible due to technology. Think about how easy it was to just log onto our computers or tablets and begin learning from wherever we left off. Or how easy it was to just pick up your phone and call your teacher and figure out how to do calculus problem. Here we are now, having an online graduation where students and parents from all over the world are able to participate. This experience alone was an opportunity that not many students get. Not only were we fortunate enough to get a high school experience, but we have had so many other opportunities that this school gave us because of the flexibility of online learning. All of which was possible because of technology.

When we were young, we were one of the first generations that got to use such advanced technology, which was invented by the generation before us. As we grew up, we witnessed technology advance even further. We saw the advancements, we learned them first hand, and today we are laughing at some of the technologies we no longer use. Do you remember the first flip phones? Did you ever try to pick up your dad's laptop? How many of you used a desktop computer? Do you even know what one looks like? Since then, technology has taken off to; the 3-dimensional TVs, smart phones, and all sorts of nice gadgets we enjoy playing with. I'm not going to stand here and talk about how technology has advanced though, I'm going to talk about how we will advance because of technology.

As we grew up we learned about different kinds of technology, we learned the basics that this new generation doesn't know. We are teaching the younger generations how to use technology right now. Our generation is making extraordinary technological advances before they even get to college. This does not mean that our generation knows technology the best, rather that we are the next generation to accomplish amazing things because we grew up with and used technology in ways that no other generation has. We can change technology and we can teach it and we can continue to use it in even more astounding ways than ever. If the future of our society is technology, then the generation that knows technology knows the future.

Currently, we are the generation that knows technology heavily and we are the generation that has potential further advance, we are the next generation to take technology to new heights. It should motivate us that we have the power to create a better and more advanced society. When we are asking ourselves what we want to do for the rest of our lives and how we are going to make our impact on the world, we can think about how the previous generation changed our lives and we can try to project that on the better future we are trying to make for ourselves and for others.

The technology we are enhancing can relate to anything—the environment, the medicine, the food industry, research, the possibilities are endless. It's up to you to decide how you want to change the world, but you have to change it because no one else will do it the way you want the job done. Now go change the world!

Congratulations class of 2016! We truly have something to be proud of for being such a unique and accomplished class. I wish you success in the plans you have created for your future and I hope someday we can meet again and know that we succeeded.