Upper School senior Dom Refuerzo ’16 delivered this speech at the 2016 annual dinner honoring the Yazi Scholars, a program for which Charles Wright Academy partners with the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound. Dom highlights the joys of exploration and discovery they experienced while a student at Charles Wright.
I’m gonna be honest with you—I consider myself a pretty good writer. And so when someone let me know that it was my turn to write the Yazi dinner speech, I had it in my brain that I was gonna kill it. But the problem is, as much as I am good at writing, I am just as poor at speaking. But we’re gonna get through this.
I’ve become familiar with paradoxes like this during my time here. Some of them were beyond my understanding, like Schrodinger’s Cat. Basically there’s a cat in a box that is, by some miracle, I think both dead and alive?
Of course it’s all imaginary, so no animals were harmed in the making of this speech. However, what’s real is that human beings live in contradictions. And that is a lesson that I would not have learned had I not gone to Charles Wright.
I’ve been involved in student government for three years, and all of my speeches have a line that goes something like this: I hope you never cease to make wonderful mistakes. Yep! I’m an advocate for mistake-making… except when it comes to me.
You see, I’ve set my curriculum up so that I could become an engineer or astronomer, some great mathematician or scientist. But being a student at this school has presented me with an opportunity to write a One Act with one of my best friends. It’s a musical. He wrote most of the dialogue and I wrote the songs. Side note—the One Acts are going swimmingly, and they’re next week! You should all definitely go.
Anyway, I was standing in my living room one day, writing these One Act songs into a journal and listening to KPOP, when something happened. There’s a quote by Kurt Vonnegut, who is by the way an ARC author, so sophomores especially listen to this, that goes, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”
I was so happy while this pen portrayed the lyrics that I had mulled over for hours on end. But the realization of my want to pursue songwriting, when all I’ve been doing is science and math… it’s kind of scary.
And so here are the paradoxes of my life: I am scared of what my future has in store. But I am brave in this moment as I am standing here with sweat in my hands and a heart beating out of my chest and speaking in front of all of you despite it all. I’m a little insecure in my skills as a musician, but I am confident in my success in whatever path I ultimately choose. I am vain and naive and selfish, but most of all, I am thankful.
So thank you so much for believing in my academic skills, despite scoring a D on my first Charles Wright test. Because without you, I wouldn’t have ended with an A in the class. Thank you for recommending me for leadership programs, because without you I wouldn’t have had the courage to run for an ASB position. Thank you for sending me off to Italy for free, because without you I wouldn’t have vanquished those language barriers.
I am always changing, always operating in contradictions, but if there is one constant in my life, it is gratitude. Thank you for giving me countless blessings. I wish this community nothing short of the best.
And oh, one more phrase of gratitude, if you don’t mind? Thank you for your time!
photo by Jasper Xin ’18