BPL 2020 Commencement Address - Kevin Singh

 Hello Big Picture. My name is Kevin Singh and I’m the Big Picture President at East Side High School in Newark, New Jersey.

It is truly an honor for me to be able to give this year’s Commencement speech. I’ve been challenged to answer a question that pertains to all of us. What does Big Picture mean to me?

To answer this question, I believe it is important to understand who I was and where I was before joining Big Picture. I joined Big Picture in my sophomore year of high school and initially I was skeptical that this program would have a real impact in my life. I knew about the amazing opportunity of going out on internships, but I anticipated that the learning style would remain the same.

Lecture. Textbook. Quiz.

The same system that had failed me and caused me to view myself as both a mediocre student and a mediocre person.

To my delight, however, it was nothing like I expected.

The first thing that I noticed was how student-oriented the program was. Challenging students to both answer difficult questions and tackle difficult situations. The second difference was the focus on project-based learning – a form of learning that engaged students and taught us how to apply our knowledge.

Additionally, it gave us extremely joyful memories; like the time we had a mock trial or when we changed the Declaration of Independence into a breakup song. Good times.

Finally, the most impactful difference was the teachers and staff. The men and women are true examples of leaders, mentors and friends. They consistently made time and were available to assist us whenever it was necessary. I believe I speak on behalf of all of us Big Picture students when I say that they are the defining factors in our development and our growth. For that, I am truly grateful and forever will be for making me the man and leader that I am today.

Today, however, is a bittersweet moment in our lives. For the last four years – or three years in my case – we have been prepared, taught and encouraged in this program for our futures outside of high school and outside of Big Picture. While it is sad to have to say goodbye to our friends, our family and our mentors we can remain confident in one simple truth:

We. Are. Ready.

As proud Big Picture Academy graduates, we have been put to the test. Challenged. Pushed. And have gained skills that most high schoolers – no, most people – would wish for.

Today we are graduates. But tomorrow we will be engineers, politicians, CEOs, entrepreneurs.

Mentors.

We are seasoned fighters. The only question now is: is the workforce ready for us?

Thank you.