WARREN, Mich. (May 20, 2019) – One of 16 seniors who were in De La Salle Collegiate’s rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Kevin Allen Kathawa gave a Valedictorian Speech at the school’s 91st commencement ceremony at Grace Christian Church on Monday evening.
Kathawa, who plans to attend the University of Detroit Mercy in the fall, was on the National Honor Society and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Here is his speech:
“In the words of the great philosopher and Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Branch Manager Michael G. Scott: ‘Don’t ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what. No matter . . . where. Or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or . . . or where you’ve been . . . ever. For any reason whatsoever.’
“That is the Michael Scott philosophy. I stand by it wholeheartedly, and I believe it is a principle that we should all adopt in our lives. It’s centered around creating respectful human relationships, which happens to be one of the goals of Lasallian education. Whether it be with teachers or fellow classmates, I hope we can all think of someone from De La Salle who has impacted our lives during our time here.
“Personally, there are two groups of people, both involved with the International Baccalaureate Programme, who have made a significant impact on me: the 15 other brave kids in the IB Program and Mrs. Howay — aka our IB mom. I want to first thank Mrs. Howay for making IB a reality and treating me with nothing but respect these last two years. I truly appreciate your unwavering support for me these past few months, in particular. And so, to my IB mom, always remember — keep up the good vibes.
“I’d also like to recognize my graduating IB brothers: Dom Balice, Nicholas Binno, Vince Compton, Rob Cornwell, Ian Earle, Athan Konon, Jacob Kujawa, Noah Lundgren, Nino Minniti, Joe Pierce, Conner Popa, Alex Scotta, Jack Studnicka, Anthony Stull, and Connor Weir. These 15 guys have worked so hard the last two years in what is a very rigorous program.
“Although our transcripts will read 187 students in our graduating class, today and forever, we as the Class of 2019 stand 188 strong. I pray that we are all welcomed into Heaven by our Lasallian brother, Joey Gangola.
“I would be remiss if I did not mention my family as an enormous source of support for me throughout these four years. Mom and Dad, thank you for instilling in me a strong faith and an excellent work ethic. And thank you for always believing in me. To my older brothers, Deion, Navin, and Jason, thank you for being such outstanding role models for me. And finally, to my little sister Isabella, thank you for always brightening my day.
I can confidently say that, without the contributions from each and every one of you, this moment would never be possible.
“Before my closing thoughts, I would like to offer a word of advice on De La Salle’s motto ‘Builders of Boys. Makers of Men.’ I want to share a quote by Gus Fring from the series ‘Breaking Bad’ which shows, in part, what it means to be a man. Fring states, ‘What does a man do? A man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.’ Gus Fring may not exactly be a role model in the series, but there is, in fact, wisdom in those words.
“It is absolutely imperative that we strive towards this vision of manhood. We are not automatically men just because we walk across this stage and receive a diploma. Being a man is not a once-and-for-all proposition; it is a process. We become men. We strive for it.
“I’d like to end this farewell speech by quoting the famous pre-game speech given by Herb Brooks to his players at the 1980 Winter Olympics just before their game against the undefeated Soviet Union. Just as those 20 men representing the United States in 1980 were inspired despite facing the most daunting task in the hockey world, so, too, to can all of us be inspired here tonight. My hope is that we can all take these words to heart and harness them for the road ahead to college and beyond.
“And so, in the words of the legendary Herb Brooks:
” ‘Great moments . . . are born from great opportunity. That’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Now, go out there and take it.’ ”