Nataan Hong – Graduation Address – June 9, 2021
Nine Years For Life
Nine years. That’s how long I’ve been “stuck” with these people.
Nine years of getting to know most of them deeply. Maybe too much.
Nine years, short and long, marked the foundation of my life to come.
Nine years of growing up with siblings that I never had.
Nine years, some happy, some sad.
Reminiscing over my time at Brandeis, challenges accompanied by tears of happiness and sadness. Searching for the moments that made my experience special, and having too many to choose from. Walking down the hallway as an eighth-grader, gazing from class to class, watching a summary of my life.
Each memory warms my soul.
Creating junk sculpture in the kindergarten room and laughing so hard. Writing and “Publishing” silly stories back in first grade and thinking that it was so cool that my own book was printed in hardcover.
Playing in school bands and performing in front of thousands of people with famous musicians.
Designing intricate machines made of popsicle sticks in science class.
Struggling with math problems and experiencing that satisfying ah-ha moment when it all clicks.
I wasted so much time trying to catch smoke with my bare hands, that I forgot that the fire hadn’t even started yet.
I spent hours thinking about the future when the only thing for sure is the past.
I drifted to the future, and I forgot to reflect.
I know that I may be leaving Brandeis, but Brandeis, this community in which I have lived for nine years, will never leave me. Now it’s time for a change. A new school. A new life. A new home.
All of my core values that I am hardwired to live by...respect, grit, Tikkun Olam, shaped and developed right here, in this place, with these people.
Every decision I will make in the future, every choice of words, every person I befriend, will be because of something I have learned from here, or an experience that I have shared with one of you.
Nine years, of learning, laughing, and living my life in the Brandeis community.
Fear engulfs me as I think about my departure from Brandeis.
It’s always been frightening to think about my departure from Brandeis, but now, as I’ve always dreaded, I am standing in front of you. Giving my graduation speech. Preparing...to leave my home.
I would like to thank each and every one of you. All of my classmates, everyone who has left, everyone new to the community, everyone who has been here through it all. Thank you for your support. Thank you for the memories. You are the reason I call this place home.