Thinking back, I’ve a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Being a senior, and this probably being the last Thanksgiving I’ll get to spend with my Amherst College friends, I feel extremely grateful for the people that made it possible to come to Amherst. First off, I have to thank my high school principal, Dr. Ben Chavis. High school with him was definitely not your old-fashioned lockers and hallways, TV-styled high school, but if anything, his harsh rules taught me discipline. It taught me respect. And it taught me to brush the haters off because ain’t nobody got time for them. Oh, and taught me I need to get my butt to graduation because those desks gave my cheeks splinters. I think you know which cheeks.

I need to thank Mr. Moskowitz, the English teacher that always had high hopes for me. And of course, look pointedly at me when he wanted me to participate in class while I very obviously let my gaze wander anywhere but in his direction. I still don’t like participating in English classes, but when I do, I think of you, teach. And of the awkward moments in class when no one else wanted to talk, and you just stared at me until I slowly raised my hand up. Then you’d say, with an expression of exaggerated surprise, “Oh, Jenny! Yes! What is it?”

Mr. Berniker, the awesome Jedi Math teacher who would expect nothing less than outstanding scores from me on his exams. All of us are wondering when you’ll find another Star Wards fanatic and have, I quote some other student, “little Yodas.” I think she was thinking about babies being wrinkly.
And of course, my family. I get fed delicious food, sleep in a warm bed, and receive a lot hugs and love. Well, from Mom. Dad gives the awkward head pats. I like those, too. And I am very grateful for all the things they do for me, even though they left me in front of the public library for over 5 hours when I was 12. It was dark, cold, and really scary, but that’s okay. Not like that scarred me for life or anything, you know?

To all of you going through the college search, I am telling you now, it is WORTH it. I’m not just talking about your education. The people you meet in college, the friends you’ll make, the people you’ll meet at events and talks, they all have stories and lessons to teach you. I feel so thankful toward the close friends I’ve made at Amherst. Before this, I was just the “ghetto girl” from Oakland, focused on taking full advantage of the great financial aid, graduating, and then getting a job straightaway to help support my family. My friends here showed me that life wasn’t such a closed path. “You’ll be working for the rest of your life, so live while you work,” they taught me. I want you all, especially those of you who have that kind of pressure to perform well, to provide for their families, to satisfy your parents, to learn that as well.
To my friends: Despite all the blackmail pictures you took of me and the embarrassing stories you will never let me forget happened, I am so grateful that you all entered my life.

Also, I have those embarrassing videos which I will play at your wedding.