Editor's Note: The following remarks were given by Stoughton School Committee Chair Dr. Erdem A. Ural to the Stoughton High School graduating Class of 2014 on Thursday, June 5, 2014. To view the full list of graduates, click here.
Good evening, graduates, proud parents, grandparents, family and friends! On behalf of the Stoughton School Committee, I welcome all of you to this ceremony.
High school graduation is such an important milestone in a person’s life. This is not only a truly proud milestone, but it is also an emotional and joyful occasion. I have a child in second grade, and another in sixth grade. I hope I will be around to share their graduations with them.
Graduates! Completing your high school education is a great accomplishment. It will unlock many doors for you in your adult life, and present many opportunities in the years to come.
Education not only gives us career options, but it also opens new horizons for appreciating and enjoying life more.
Graduates! You are lucky because you had a great education in Stoughton Public Schools. Your education here prepared you for the challenges, opportunities and the diversity in the World. In addition to great academics, you also had access to a great athletic program and a wonderful music program.
We all come from families with different social and economic status. We have different ethnic backgrounds, different cultures. Education is the great equalizer.
I love the brutal honesty of the young children. One frequent comment I get from them is that: You talk Funny!
That is true. English is not my native language, and I am still learning it. I come from a land approximately 5,000 miles away from Stoughton. I was born to a loving family with extremely modest means. I loved school. I always worked hard and did well in school. I was at the top of my graduating class in college. Because of my hard work and dedication in school, I was offered several great opportunities upon my college graduation. Two of them were for coming to United States for graduate study. One option was to come to Princeton University as a Fulbright Scholar. Another opportunity came from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the form of the full scholarship to pursue doctoral studies in any college and university in the United States.
I accepted the NATO scholarship and came to the University of Michigan.
When I first came to the United States, I could read the college text books. But I could barely speak and understand the spoken language. My admission to the University of Michigan was contingent upon taking some classes for English as a Second Language.
I had an old-fashioned faculty adviser. He said “if you learn English, you will go out with the girls, and won’t have time to study.” He called the graduate school, had my ESL class requirements removed.
Six months later, I found me an American girlfriend, and I fired my faculty adviser.
When I got my doctoral degree in aerospace engineering, I was offered numerous career opportunities in United States and abroad. I chose a research position in a company in Norwood, Massachusetts and settled in Stoughton. Stoughton has been my home for the past 32 years. I love everything about Stoughton.
Several years after moving to Stoughton, I chose to become an American Citizen.
The Building A of Stoughton High School was built at a cost of $150,000, and dedicated on September 8, 1923. For those who have not noticed, there is a large dedication sign on the Pearl Street face of Building A. The sign reads “DEDICATED TO CITIZENSHIP.”
What does citizenship mean? Webster’s dictionary defines citizenship as “the qualities that a person is expected to have as a responsible member of a community.” We are all members of the community. Citizenship is how we all work together to make our community a better place.
Citizenship starts with understanding the concept of the common good. Good Citizenship requires understanding how our society works, and examining our society's problems in an informed manner. Good Citizenship entails finding democratic ways to improve our public policy and how our government works.
Citizenship is all about giving back to the Society. That is why I have participated in a lot of volunteer activities. I currently serve on the Stoughton School Committee. With my fellow board members, we spend countless hours to make Stoughton schools even greater.
Stoughton High has a tradition of graduating people who has contributed strongly to all aspects of our society. This is because we have a great community. This is because we have great parents. This is because we have great teachers. And, this is because we have greatest kids.
I recognize some of you are going to college, some of you are joining the workforce, and some of you are joining the military. Regardless of where you choose to go, you are destined for greatness. A graduating class that has the likes of Pink Power Ranger, Fat Joe, Kit Kat, Ant Dog, Cheeka, Starfire, and Wermanator cannot miss in having a great future.
Get your diploma and run with it. Make a positive difference in someone’s life. Make a positive difference in our society. Be a great citizen!
Good luck and God bless.