Four years of work culminating to this. Wack.
I entered this school, like many, completely terrified. I did not know what to expect from the gargantuan school with three separate buildings, hundreds of kids I had never talked to before and tons of new classes, clubs and opportunities to be a part of. I wanted to be successful, but I did not know where to begin.
For a large majority of my time at South, I have felt disconnected. I have been trapped behind a plexiglass wall— able to see everything happening but never truly a part of it. As a student of color here, I have had to delicately balance speaking my mind candidly and trying not to step on any toes. Because I represent something bigger than just myself, I have had to bite my tongue. I have to work harder, and I am not afforded as many slip-ups or mistakes as some of my peers. I may be the only example of a Muslim American many of my peers have met; I do not take this responsibility lightly.
My time at South has taught me how to be resilient. From people constantly minimizing my contributions because “all Indians are smart,” to being called a terrorist based on my religious beliefs, I have had to keep my guard up at all times. I have accomplished so much here despite my identity, rather than because of it.
While a large part of my time at South has been plagued and clouded by these issues, I can still say, with confidence, that I have made the most out of my time here. Between my time as class president and editor in chief of The Tower, I have had my fair share of emotional breakdowns, early mornings and late nights. However, I don’t regret a single thing I did at this school.
Since elementary school, I have had a skewed, but clear, definition of success. I never wanted to be outlandishly famous, extremely rich or discover the meaning of life. From a young age, there was only one thing that I decided was an indicator of success: a Wikipedia page. All my life’s work would actually mean something if I had a spot in the ultimate digital encyclopedia.
Now, in retrospect, I see how arbitrary this goal is. If I wanted to, I could submit a page for review tomorrow and call my life a success. I am able to realize that there must be more to success than this. As cheesy as it sounds, I now tend to believe that success is measured not in the encyclopedic footprint you leave, but in the amount of lives you have impacted for the better.
With this definition in mind, I think I can say that I have had a successful four years at South.
Outside of homecoming festivities (rest in peace to ‘Shrek Sophomores’ and senior sweep) and Prom, which may or may not happen on Aug. 5, my work on student council has allowed me to have a direct say in life at South.
Wellness Week started as an idea in my head sophomore year that I was too scared to bring to the council. Now, after somehow bringing a horse to South’s front lawn and cooking up hundreds of pancakes before school, I can say I started something. I didn’t cure mental illness by bringing coloring pages and clementines to the library, but I hope I was successful in starting an important dialogue that will help change the culture at South.
It has been an honor to lead this group of 82 student journalists this year. Housing discrimination, sex education and student drug usage are just some of the major topics this staff tackled headfirst this year. I could not be more proud of the level of professionalism and diligence these staffers have displayed this year.
On March 12, when school buildings were first closed by Governor Whitmer for three weeks, I debated whether or not to propose continuing this weekly tradition; would The Tower staff be up for the challenge? I can say with pride that during this time we have produced five of our strongest issues, entirely remotely. We have upheld the promise I made at the beginning of the year to be a weekly tradition. I hope I was successful in sharing my love and passion for telling stories this year.
I think it is also important to give recognition to those who taught me what success is from their words and actions.
Mom and Dad, thank you for putting up with me these past 18 years. When I could not fall asleep the night before sixth grade because Pierce Middle School seemed to be the scariest place on Earth, thank you for letting me sleep in your bed. You have taught me the importance of being humble and kind. Aleena, thank you for not yelling at me when I am running late in the morning and get you to your student council meetings five minutes late. Omar, thank you for being better than me in almost every way possible— including being messier and slower than me. Razzi, thank you for being a good cat.
To my teachers, from kindergarten (both years…) to now, I have been so fortunate to be guided by you. Many of you may not even realize your lasting impact on me. I would not be the person I am today without my one card flip in first grade from Ms. Morses or my one signature in eighth grade from Ms. Quinn. Each of you has left your mark on me, and I am a better person because of you.
And to my friends, I can honestly say that I am not sure I would be where I am at without you in my life. You have made the bad times significantly less bad. You have made the good times significantly more good. Your passions inspire me to be better and do better. I cannot wait to be successful alongside you.
Simply put, high school was wack.
Right over left.,