Celebrating a Copper Corridor High School Graduation

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Dear graduates from high schools in the Copper Corridor,

  I join your family and friends in celebrating your graduation from high school. I also want to be the first to welcome you to the start of your adulthood.

  Now, you have the responsibility as adults to make choices that either take you forward or in reverse. From now on, every step you take, you own.

  It’s been 37 years since I graduated from Hayden High School. And, take note, yes time does fly…fast. It seems like only yesterday when there were school dances, spirit days and hearing 80’s hit music for the first time.

  I’ve always believed growing-up in the Copper Corridor was a blessing as our small towns and communities offered up safety, connections and a sense of family.

  Let’s be clear: just because you’re from a small town doesn’t mean you’re destined to do small things; it means there’s a bigger world for you to explore and to experience.

  I could not have imagined, as an 18-year-old, that one day I would be visiting the White House and shake the hand of a First Lady or traveling throughout Vietnam for two weeks as a delegate with the American Council of Young Political Leaders. Dream big, travel and open yourselves for new journeys and opportunities.

  Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to have people who influenced my life as an adult. No matter where I go, near or far, their advice has followed me.

  Pete Rios inspired me (and continues to inspire me) through his pursuit of seeking elected office and most importantly for not giving up. Even after his first political loss, he was unrelenting. Stop signs weren’t a part of his drive toward accomplishing his aim to serve.

  From Pete, I learned there’s a difference between a politician and a political leader. By the time I was in seventh grade, I joined a group of kids who walked and knocked for his campaigns in Nogales, Coolidge, San Manuel and many places in between. He served in the state senate, house of representatives and as a Pinal County supervisor.

  Another take-away was the idea of possibility—that even from growing up in poverty to challenging the powerful—a dream of public service was attainable. He proved it time after time. Pete would go on to make history as the first Latino who served as president of the Arizona state senate.

  Stop and think of the people who motivated you like teachers or coaches and recollect their guidance and their best consejos (advice). Your turn is coming to care for and inspire others. Pay it forward by being a person that infuses positivity and fuels confidence.

  Life is life, and it can be tough. Know you will have failures. From them, you will gain knowledge and strength. In the course of your life there will be barriers and difficulties that may seem unfixable. You may feel lonely, anxious and go to a dark place. You might begin to have dark thoughts. Seek help. Talk to someone. Don’t let pride or the opinions deprive you of healing and hope—and life.

  In our world there remains the ugliness of bigotry. Whether on social media or on the streets, don’t let it infect you or lead you astray into hating. Equality means everyone regardless of their background or who they love. Meanness won’t feed your soul; it will sour your personal joy.

  Part of being an adult is owning your name and what it stands for; it’s your brand—the image people have of you. It’s your job to protect your brand—every day.

  Here’s my final life’s advice to you: be original. Keep it 100. Know when to take a stand and when to take a seat. Always try for that second first impression. Help heal others. Words matter. Be respectful. Be the generation that lowers the volume and speaks to one another. Be charitable. Be mindful of your economics. Be courageous.

  Be a good human and remember you’re from the heart of Arizona.

/s/ Carlos Galindo-Elvira

 

Editor’s Note: Carlos Galindo-Elvira is the Director of Community Engagement at Chicanos Por La Causa and former mayor of Hayden. He can be found on Twitter at @arizonascge.

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