Grads urged to listen to voice saying ‘you can do it’
A high school counselor tried to dissuade her from becoming a doctor, but Dr. Bryan Batch, who’s now a physician and an assistant professor of medicine at Duke, said she felt it was right.
That experience taught her two of seven life lessons that she shared Thursday as the commencement speaker at the 2014 graduation ceremony for City of Medicine Academy, a four-year high school that prepares students for careers in health care.
Batch’s first lesson was that you have to listen and trust the inner voice that says “you can do it.” The second was that there will always be negative people trying to bring you down. You have to surround yourself with positive people.
And while she said that later on, challenging college classes made her question her own path, she learned another lesson: hard work trumps genius.
She spoke to 74 City of Medicine Academy graduating seniors dressed in blue in gold at the N.C. Central University McLendon-McDougald gymnasium. This year’s class had a 100 percent graduation rate, said Principal L. Jackie Tobias. That produced a cheer from the graduates and their friends and family.
Collectively, the class also earned more than $1.5 million in scholarships, Tobias said. More than 95 percent of the graduates will go to four- or two-year colleges or universities.
“Thank you for touching my life and it has been a pleasure to serve every one of you,” she said.
In his address to his classmates, class valedictorian Jarrett Bumidang said that all journeys are not easy, including their through the City of Medicine Academy. He described long nights studying, and the challenge of balancing schoolwork, responsibilities and trying to be a kid.
“No matter where we go and what we aim to do, there will be hardship,” he said. “We are the vine, we must defy the obstacles that pull us down,” he said.
Senior Class President Morgan Travis recalled her first day walking into the school. She said she didn’t know anyone, but met compassionate people who became true friends.
“Every person in this stadium sees something in you, and knows you will accomplish great things,” she told her classmates.
Thursday’s occasion was an exciting one for 17-year-old Chanese Latta. While lined up with the other graduates before the ceremony, Latta said she was “all smiles.”
Latta said she expects to get her certified nursing aide license in June, and plans to go on to attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Ultimately, she wants to be a neonatal nurse practitioner.
“It was hard, but rewarding,” she said of her four years. “I wouldn’t change anything about it. It made me who I am today.”
Jocelyn Mack, 18, said she had regrets at first about attending the school, but that changed.
“I enjoyed my four years,” she said, counting medicine-related classes and internship opportunities as perks. After graduation, she plans to attend Durham Technical Community College and then transfer to a dental program.
“I’m ready, I’m pumped,” she said.
A’Jewel Leak was also excited about graduating. After high school, she plans to attend UNC-Greensboro to major in nursing. She said she knows her journey was not ending with Thursday’s ceremony, but was just starting.
“It was hard work, but it paid off in the end,” she said.