Jennifer Cruz – "Come Back" Speech

June 15, 2011

Lawrence High School

At her graduation, Jennifer Cruz, the salutatorian of Lawrence High School’s Class of 2011 delivered a very important message. She spoke about the importance of doing great things and then coming back to Lawrence and helping change this great city.  Its a message that more of us should be spreading!
-Pavel M Payano

June 12th, 2011
Salutatorian Speech
My name is Jennifer Cruz
and although most of you might not know me,
it’s probably because “I” actually spent the last four years of high school….going to class.

Our years together have been defined by constant change
and no… I don’t mean constant change as in the girlfriend or boyfriend you had last week
or what outfit to wear to a Friday night jam.

Instead, I’d like you to remember the continuous adaptations and challenges we’ve had to bear with, which have morphed us in the people we are today.

We started off in six different academies;
we went from six Principals to three;
from the normal 7 period schedule to long blocks.

In addition, we’ve had to cope with the tragic losses of loved ones, personal setbacks and negative perception of what it means to be a student living in Lawrence.

One only needs to take a glance at the front page headlines of the Eagle Tribune to see the negativity that surrounds Lawrence; bad press has led to low expectations, racism and stereotypes.

For example,
“Police probe two armed robberies in Lawrence”
“Lawrence man sentenced in money-laundering case”

HOWEVER….we are so much more than these headlines. To know us truly you have to read deeper and in between the lines.

We are community leaders cleaning the Spicket River, participating and raising money for “The Walk for Hunger” and creating art for the “Glow Gala Art Show.”

We are athletes breaking records and earning the title of “State Champions.”

We are scholars taking a multitude of rigorous AP courses and Honors classes.

We have participated, raised, created, broken, taken and conquered all these areas in a positive way.

We are real and lively, strong and passionate, we are fighters.

Of course, all of these accomplishments could not have been achieved if it weren’t for the people that surroundtoday; our parents, friends, teachers and coaches. These are the people that have supported, guided and inspired us along the way and without them we wouldn’t be sitting here at this moment. So be sure to thank the people that have helped you get here, and remember that the true spirit of living is to help others reach their goals and accomplish their dreams. This leads me to the two important words I want you all to remember:


If at anytime you feel lost…..COME BACK
Pollo Tipico, Semana Hispana, the Chimi Truck and Essex Street
will help you find your way once again.

If at anytime you feel alone…..COME BACK
The familiar faces of the people you love
will be here waiting for you with open arms.

If at anytime you feel discouraged…..COME BACK
Passing by the Lawrence High school will remind you that if you were able to survive four years here….then nothing is impossible. ​

And when you do become successful, rich and famous…..COME BACK.
Show others what is possible.

But our journey does not end; our beginning here is our future as well.
It is then our turn to return the favor and come back to help the people of our city.

No one understands this place better than we do and no one can do a better job than we can;
we are the only ones who can break the awful stereotypes that surround us and it is our responsibility to do so.

So I hope you guys come back and inspire students with your-experiences,
mentor at our Lawrence Public Schools,
become a member of the Lawrence School Committee or
maybe even, someday be the mayor of this city.

Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2011.
May your futures be filled with many successes, but most importantly lots of happiness.
, , , ,

About pavelpayano

Pavel Payano graduated with a BA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2006. After graduation he became the Outreach Director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. He served in this role until 2007 when he joined the staff of Congresswoman Tsongas becoming her Special Assistant and Immigration Specialist. In June 2011 he graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a Masters of Science in Public Affairs. Mr. Payano is an active member of the Lawrence community; in 2010 he co-founded the Greater Lawrence Young Professionals Network, an organization that hopes to bridge the gap between local government, business leaders and young professionals who care about the development and well being of the greater Lawrence communities. He is also serving his second term as a Lawrence School Committee member.

View all posts by pavelpayano

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