Amaru Tupacyupanqui ’23 was chosen by his fellow seniors to speak on behalf of the Class of 2023 during the 106th Graduation Exercises at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. Read Tupacyupanqui's remarks, as prepared for delivery.
Good Morning. Thank you to Fr. Devron, Dr. Nofi, Mr. DiNovi, the Board of Trustees, and all of the teachers and staff who have made Regis into a special place in my heart over the past few years, and to the Class of 2023 for allowing me the honor to speak to you today.
One of the many things I`ve been told by my classmates since Dr. Nofi notified me that I would be the class speaker was that I break typical speaker conventions. The people had spoken and I had to deliver on that promise. Maybe that meant making a lot of jokes. Maybe that meant writing my speech using my name and picking a quality about myself using the letters of my first as some of you suggested. But I think you all wanted to see if Dr. Nofi could pronounce my extremely long last name correctly, which confounds almost everybody. Many people have failed, and he did a good job.
During my first day at Regis, I was mixed with excitement and nervousness, the same emotions I think we all felt during our first day. We can all remember the awkward greetings, the many times we switched classrooms to meet our teachers, and the oppressive heat of September. As I walked into Room 510, the first person I met was Kevin Juzeniw, and his warm smile and his unwavering support for the doomed 2019 Knicks told me that maybe Regis wasn`t just a place where we study all day. Maybe there are other things we do to have fun to make the most of teenage life. After all, you only live once.
And yet, I think what was foremost on all of our minds was how on Earth we were to survive the academic monster that is Regis. After all, a good score on the HSPT and a stellar interview meant we were welcomed into the grand tradition of Regis education — one in which we are tasked to help others with the gifts God has given us. Some of these gifts are in math, physics, and chemistry. Some of these gifts are to galvanize support from the student body and outside organizations for the many social-justice projects for the underserved throughout New York City. And some of these gifts are more unique in nature: the gift to turn a discussion about a quote from yesterday`s English reading into a 10-minute rant about world politics, the gift to finish a 10-page American Studies paper in the last 24 hours of what was supposed to a year-long project, and even the gift to find enjoyment amidst all the upcoming essays and tests by playing Catan in the library and watching the World Cup in the cafeteria to see if our parlays would hit.
What is often the cause of a lot of our fears at 1 a.m. in the morning after sipping a third coffee to study for the upcoming test is that all our hard work will be for nothing. We all have undertaken the lonely and long walk up the steps at least once to any of the resource centers to receive our tests and essay dreading any red markings on the immaculate white paper that scream: YOU ARE NOT PERFECT. Lower grades mean a lower chance of acceptance into our dream college, which will affect our job opportunities and what our life will be like when one day one of our sons is applying to Regis.
And yet, the Regis culture is one where we enjoy seeing each other succeed: the many study guides compiled with weeks worth of notes, the group chats debating whether or not a particular practice problem would be on the test, and the one brave person who asked the teacher for an essay extension. The special brotherhood that we all share cannot be expressed in words or in actions. For all the mistakes that we have made over the last four years, there is someone there to pick us up, urging us to keep on moving. During the Emmaus retreat, much of the discussion revolved around closing this chapter of our life and opening the next one, one of college filled with hope and doubt for the future. In the Gospel, Jesus to the disciples, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” before breaking the bread in front of them and disappearing. It was only then that the disciples truly believed in the Resurrection and proceeded to tell the whole village.
It is human nature to be skeptical of what we cannot see. The essence of our Catholic faith, however, is believing in God who reveals himself in different ways. When faced with opposition in whether God was truly present in the Eucharist, Flannery O'Connor emphatically stated, “Well if the Eucharist is just a symbol, to hell with it.” It is common for a Regian to look for reassurances that our grades will be up to our expectations, that our friendships will stay close, and that we will achieve goals later in life. I believe God is present everywhere in the Regis community, always looking to help its students to achieve their full potential. I see his work at hand when Mr. Rose tells us to chill and reassures us that we can complete the writing portfolio by 3 p.m. I can see his work when Ms. Chua reminds us that when in doubt of a math problem, look to finagle it (a word that means to use illegal math to get the right answer, and as I learned the hard way, always, always results in zero credit). I see it in the Resource Centers when
upperclassmen help the underclassmen understand what the pluscuamperfecto clause really means in Spanish class. As a native speaker, such a notion was as foreign to me as Mr. Ortiz passing up the opportunity to JUG us for wearing sneakers.
Outside of the classroom, where I believe friendships truly develop, I see our gifts and friendships at work when the Regis Nest packed the Upper Gym for our ascending basketball team and swore that we should play tighter press defense and urged a particular bench player to shoot a three pointer after never attempting one in his career. He made it. I see it when an actor in the Regis Rep sings a note so high that I am left quite literally left flabbergasted, that immediately renders a bravo from the audience. I see it when we shave our heads for the St. Baldrick`s Cancer Research Program and when we go out to feed the homeless in the Midnight Runs. Because although we are sometimes condemned to all-nighters that dampen our spirits, these are the moments we truly relish and cherish and remember from our high school experience.
Our generous actions and gifts to one another cannot end here. They must spread to all corners of the Earth as St. Ignatius Loyola intended for us to do. It is our obligation to help those who do not have the opportunity to read Shakespeare, to help those and who do not have the opportunity to receive a Jesuit education. We must never forget that we are now part of a great Regis tradition by being open, religious, intellectually proficient, open to others, and committed to doing justice that must continue in our lives if we are to honor the great gift of a Regis education.
This past year has been an especially trying one with college decisions and the prospect of leaving home for the first time hanging over our heads. It is super exciting and slightly frightening all wrapped up into one, the same feelings we felt in our first week at Regis. As this chapter of our life closes and a new one begins, the only advice from me, an immature and naïve 17-year-old, is to do everything to the best of your ability and to find God in everything you do. Work but don't work too hard. There is more to life than getting the best grades and we will be there for each other in those important moments. God works in mysterious ways, and while the skies may be dark and the roadways unsure, let us be ready to do good, for we are sons of Regis. Let us find God in every accomplishment and obstacle in our life, for we only have but a speck of time on this great Earth. I wish the best for all of you, for this is not ciao, but until we see each other again. Thank you brothers for a wonderful four years and may God bless you all.