2019 Commencement Address by Shlok Sharma ’19

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Shlok Sharma '19, Web Director

Below are the transcript and audio file of Shlok Sharma’s graduation speech for the Class of 2019. Shlok served as the web director for The Log.

Somehow I finally managed to show up when they called my name.

Before I start, I am so honored to be up here, and a little surprised. I want to thank Dr. Culbert for being a wonderful Head of School, the Board of Trustees for supporting the student body and the school in its operations, and the Deans for reigning us in.

When I was looking for advice on how to write a solid commencement address, a lot of teachers told me to approach it like a regular assignment, an English essay. So, like a good Loomis student, I began writing this the night before.

My original speech was about Avengers Endgame, and how the Marvel Cinematic Universe related to my high school career, but because it’s been almost a month since that movie premiered, and because you’ve all heard this already, I’d like to talk about something a lot more dear to me.

Recently on HBO, a slightly violent and dramatic show just finished its season, rocking millions of viewers around the world. I’m sure you’ve all seen it. Barry, starring Bill Hader (the guy that played Stefon on SNL), is a dark comedy about a hit man that wants to become an actor, but is unsure if he’s able to change. Game of Thrones also ended, but I’m not really sure what that show is about.

The crux of Barry, to put it quickly, is that every person has a choice on what kind of person they want to become, but whether they choose to or not is up to them. In Barry’s case it is choosing to not work for the Chechen mob and to move his talents onstage—again, I’m not sure how much of this speech I can make about this show, but if you have the time,  this show is amazing, and if you haven’t seen it, you have to check it out. For a lot of us, however, figuring out the person that we want to become is a little more difficult.

Personally, I haven’t had time for any of the big questions because I’ve been busy senior sliding. When I came in fall term this year, stressed about college applications, test scores, and my GPA, I never took a moment to think about these questions. I was worried about my immediate future, thinking about how to get through Multi without questioning everything, re-learning how to write an essay, and figuring out how to time my deeps throughout a term without getting in trouble. And just when I found out the answers to these questions, they’re not going to be useful anymore. Somehow, surprising my sophomore self, I managed to graduate, unless something goes wrong in the next few minutes.

I do want to say, that although I personally felt a little stung by the college process, I realized eventually that people do go where they’re meant to, and that in the end where you go to school is just another step in a long career. Or at least that’s something I read on a fortune cookie.

Regardless of what happened to you with the college process, or whatever you think, this whole thing is pretty insane, right? I remember as a freshman looking at high school seniors, wondering how on Earth did they have their lives figured out. And, now, as a high school senior, I realize the secret—we don’t. I have no idea how I got here, both as a graduate and as a commencement speaker.

If you told sophomore year Shlok, a quiet, slightly awkward kid unsure of whether he made the right choice coming to Loomis, that he would be giving a commencement address, he would have a lot of questions. The main one being how you managed to travel back in time and tell him the future, which would spawn so many other questions, like if time travel is possible, then does that mean that so is interdimensional…

I digress. As a sophomore new to living away from home, I didn’t know how to fit in the island, and was unsure of my place here. But I was lucky. I was in Flagg, an per inclusive dorm, and was also introduced to the Loomis faculty, a group of kind, supportive people that make this school a community. Thank you to all the Loomis faculty, on behalf of the class of 2019, for putting up with our shenanigans, and for contributing your time to our development.

Loomis is a place I’ll miss, because it’s a place that’s pushed us out of our boundary, and focused on improving ourselves. I don’t want to get too corny, but had I been at another school, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here. Where else could you find a school that’s open to an entire speech about crop circles?

For those who don’t know, crop circles is probably the reason why I’m speaking to you. My junior year, I was still barely out of my shell, when I decided to run for class president. I was really amped for the speech, because I had written about something I thought was funny: crop circles. Crop circles are those signs built by aliens when they inevitably visit crop fields on Earth, and usually come in a variety of patterns—little circles, squiggles throughout the field, or just an ominous square.

I remember after the speech, which had a surprisingly warm reception from you guys, one of my friends was talking to me about what I had done. He was really excited and was congratulating me on my speech; I assumed he had voted for me, but when I asked him he kept mum about it, which was a little weird, but I was still hopeful. The results came out, and then my friend told me he voted for Adam. I still laugh about that.

But the thought of me giving speeches was something a little alien to me—I’m more comfortable quiet, but Loomis taught me to try to operate outside of that comfort zone, and I can see that it’s taught you all too. Look at what you’ve achieved: Founder’s League Championships, amazing concerts and dance recitals, musicals, plays, senior projects, and so much more, and that kind of success translates outside of the school too.

Because of how well Loomis educates its students, all of us are heading to schools across the country, from New York to Colorado to California, and to Minnesota (for some reason), which presents a new challenge for us, a new place for us to adapt.

I will be heading off to Wesleyan University, the Yale of Connecticut, and am also excited for a huge chance. A small private school 40 minutes from Bradley Airport with an emphasis on the arts—a huge change.

Keeping to the wisdom of fortune cookies, I found out that commencement means “beginning” which is a little poetic. When I was in elementary school, my teachers would always tell me that I was preparing for the challenges of middle school, and my middle school teachers would tell me that I was preparing for the challenges of high school, and the bulk of high school was preparing for the challenges of college. But now that I’m out of the transitionary period, I can’t help but feel excited about what’s ahead.

I was really pretentious about my yearbook quote, because I put four different ones, but one sentiment is that “I hope to look back but not often.” There are good things incoming for all of us, and because of Loomis we’re prepared to receive them.

Good job Class of 2019, against all odds we managed to graduate, and in the future we’ll manage to a whole lot more. Thank you.