At the end of her freshman year of high school, Mariama Jawara wrote herself a future letter because she was jealous of the seniors who were cleaning out their lockers, and moving on from high school while she still had three years left to go.
“I was jealous of the seniors because they would be out of Laurel High School, gearing towards an independent lifestyle, while I had to wait for the 20- minute rule in order to use the bathroom,” Mariama said, at Laurel High’s graduation ceremony on Friday, June 1.
In her letter, she asked her future self if she was still happy — which struck her reading it three years later.
“Well, I’m graduating from high school today, so of course I am happy,” Mariama said, who graduated holding the highest grade point averageof all her fellow classmates, making her the class of 2018’s valedictorian.
Approximately 420 students received their diplomas at the Xfinity Center located at the University of Maryland on Friday afternoon. The students received an approximate $8 million in college scholarships, Dwayne Jones, the school’s principal said, during the ceremony.
Mariama graduated with a final GPA of 4.26 and will be attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She plans to become a pharmacist and work for Doctors Without Borders.
She reminded her fellow classmates that there is still so much more they have to learn and experience about the hardships and responsibilities that come with adulthood.
“I just wanted all of you to be reminded that we are in control of our lives,” she said. “We decide what the good choices and what the bad choices will be. We decide who we want to become and no one can take that away from us unless we allow them to.”
Kyler Smith, the salutatorian of the 2018 graduating class, also delivered a speech before his fellow classmates.
Kyler decided to use his speech to not read off clichés about graduating from high school, but instead to talk about current day’s reality because of social media.
“Our generation is so active on social media … we all have Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and some of you all still might even have Facebook,” Kyler said. “We, as young adults, are extremely focused on other people’s lives and their reality, that we attempt to mirror ourselves to them. We want whatever they have or we want to do whatever they do. I am guilty of this, too.”
However, Kyler questioned his fellow classmates and asked them if they thought life would become meaningless if everyone tried to follow a life of someone else. He called it “a life copied.”
Kyler told his classmates to take a moment and think about what they want to be part of in life.
“Why not strive for success and the life you want, so that those things can lead to the reality that you are willing to shape for yourself,” Kyler said. “ You have an incredible opportunity to be in control of your own destiny.”
Kyler graduated with a final 4.25 GPA from Laurel High and will be attending Bowie State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
urel High’s Principal Dwayne Jones said he is looking forward to the graduating senior class moving on “to do big and better things”
“You are now prepared to journey onto bigger and better assignments,” Jones said. “When you began this journey in August 2014, you were young, excited and full of wonder. You worked hard to get to this day [graduation] and I am very happy for you.”