Salutatorian Andrew Sun-Yan MTHS Class of 2018
While encouraging his classmates to develop positive habits, the senior also reflects on his four years at MTHS with humor, wisdom and gratitude
Class of 2018, congratulations. This is it. It’s finally over. My name is Andrew Sun-Yan, and I am honored to be the salutatorian of this class.
Last week, Tuesday, June 13, during my last period of Mandarin at Montville, I was taking a quiz. For this quiz, we memorized famous Confucian quotes from the Analects. Because of course we’d be doing that. Of all the quotes, one of them stuck out. This quote was, “All men’s nature are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”
This idea wasn’t isolated In the West, Aristotle, besides believing in slavery and that eels spontaneously generate from mud, also believed virtue came from habit, and this is the topic of my speech today—not the slavery and the eels thing—but about habits.
At the start of freshman year, Mr. Sanford encouraged our class to do something new everyday. Today, I’m encouraging you all to stick to something everyday.
Some habits that I’m proud of include always doing my homework, washing my hands every time I use the bathroom—which, all of you should really do by the way, and running every other day after school.
Some habits that I’m not so proud of include sleeping late, managing time poorly, and not eating breakfast.
These things are important, because like it or not, eventually we all become what we repeatedly do.
Now, I would be lying if I told you that I developed all of my good habits on my own. Actually, the only reason I keep my good habits is because I surround myself with people who encourage me to.
One time, I studied until 1AM for the AP physics exam. I didn’t do this because I had nothing better to do on a Saturday night, although I didn’t. I did it because my friend stayed up with me that entire time to do practice problems. And if I get a 5 on that exam, I’ll credit him before myself.
I don’t go running every other day because I enjoy the feeling of my legs burning off. I do it because my friends are willing to run with me and motivate me every step of the way. Alan, Asher, Hendrik, and Keith especially, although we don’t do track, thank you for making all those miles enjoyable.
I’d like to thank all the other people who have taught me good habits, like my teachers.
Thank you Ms. Finn and Dr. Brinkman for a good three years in the Science Research Program.
Thank you Dr. Lawler for making me confident I’ll ace all my essays next year.
Thank you Mr. Havington for being one of the funniest teachers I’ve ever had.
Thank you Mrs. Meng, and congratulations on your success in the Chinese project contest.
Thank you Mrs. Rivera. Calculus is really boring, but your class was fun.
Thank you Dr. Glanville for the interesting talks and life lessons.
Mrs. Einstein, your enthusiasm in teaching is admirable, and I’m glad to have had you teach me biology freshman and senior year. Your classes made hard work a normal routine for me, and you had a big influence on my major, so thank you
Mr. D, you once told me it takes 21 days to develop a habit. I searched it up and you’re wrong. It actually takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days. But, no matter whether the process is easy or hard, whether it takes 2 years or 2 minutes, thank you for encouraging me to start building good habits. I learn something from you every time we talk.
Ms. G, if you’re watching this on a video stream from NSDA nationals in Fort Lauderdale, I love you. Thank you for developing the speech and debate community at Montville. The team is like family to me, and I am so grateful to have been a part. Have a lovely retirement and congratulations.
Keith, if there’s anyone I’d choose, out of every single person here, to suffer through some classes together again at Montville, it would be you. You don’t judge others, and you have a good head on your shoulders. I’ll see you on the rift.
Asher, you once told me that you couldn’t believe our friendship together would soon end after graduation. I’m telling you now that I think we’ll continue being friends long after we leave Montville. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who works harder than you, and I envy you for that reason.
Daniel, you’ve been my friend since kindergarten, and over all this time I have never met a single person who has surprised me more than you. You have surprised me with your humor, your kindness, and how much impact a single person can have on his community, and in the end, impact is all a person can be measured by.
Finally, to the two most important people in the room, thank you to my parents for both pushing me and giving me the freedom to push myself. I know we aren’t perfect. I don’t think any family really is. But I think we made it work. In between feeding me, clothing me, housing me, and loving me, thank you. I love you both.
Congratulations to everybody here and don’t forget to start sticking to some good habits.