Sherwood Student Takes Grad Stage with Hopes of Inspiration

by Alexis Booker ’23

Senior Semret Shiferaw is this year’s graduation speaker after being selected through a rigorous audition process, and she has plans to inspire her community in a way audiences haven’t seen before. “I didn’t want a boring graduation speech, I wanted [the audience to] sit through something that would motivate [them],” said Shiferaw.

She is taking a realistic approach to life after high school, with her theme centered around not only setting goals but having the motivation to achieve them. She wants to inspire her audience of fellow seniors by encouraging them to take the steps to achieve their goals, contrary to what she’s seen in other speeches where they primarily focus on harping on setting them.

“My whole speech is about acting on your dreams … not a lot of times are we told to actually achieve what we want to achieve,” Shiferaw added.

Throughout her writing process, she faced many challenges about how to communicate her message of ambition and positivity to the outgoing Class of 2023. Despite this, she had a clear idea of what she did not want to say as it became the basis of her speech Shiferaw credits her two friends, college freshman Jylea Rahim and Sherwood junior Kalkidan Alelegn, for assisting her in the midst of writer’s block.

A few thousand people are expected to attend this year’s graduation held at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC), naturally eliciting feelings of nervousness in Shiferaw. However, knowing the messages she wants the audience to take away from her speech remains her ultimate priority. “It’s always just about a dream but where’s the ‘doing process’ of it?” she wants seniors to ask themselves. Her main goal is to motivate Sherwood students to pursue their passions rather than dwell on a dream.

As the school year comes to a close and the Senior Class begins their journey of adulthood, many students naturally have nerves about the impending change. Shiferaw’s speech is meant to ease the minds of outgoing Sherwood students and fuel them with the determination to take on any path they take. She has committed to UMBC with a major in biology this coming fall.