Fox Chapel Area High School seniors Tanvi Yende and Braddock Lalor named commencement speakers
Fox Chapel Area High School seniors Tanvi Yende and Braddock Lalor likely weren't imagining their graduation when they started kindergarten at Fairview Elementary School in 2004.
But commencement is front and center for the 18-year-olds who are the chosen speakers for the June 10 celebration.
As they stand before their 325 classmates and many families and friends packed into Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, both teens are cognizant of their message.
“Don't be afraid to fail,” Lalor plans to tell the crowd.
“Failure can help you develop as a person. Reflecting on failure is the greatest lesson.”
Lalor's ah-ha moment came this year when he applied for a caddy scholarship. He had a great resumé and felt confident. When the scholarship went elsewhere, the young man bounced back and searched out others.
“It's about testing yourself at different stages in life,” he said.
Likewise, Yende will encourage peers in her commencement address to set goals.
“It's about looking forward and finding purpose in life. It's beyond collecting accolades,” she said.
The Fox Chapel resident is the founder and president of the high school's Mock Trial team, which competed at the state level.
She plans to study applied mathematics at Yale University in the fall.
Fox Chapel Area does not name valedictorian or salutatorian speakers. Because of weighted grades, there are multiple ways to decide class rank.
Senior scholars elected Yende to speak, and she said she's honored.
Lalor became a speaker by auditioning before a six-member panel of two teachers, two PTO members and two juniors.
He said he continued to edit his speech right up until the moment he gave it.
“I did this because I have a message,” he said.
Auditioning is a stretch that graduates need to take, Lalor said, no matter win or lose.
A caddy for five years at the Fox Chapel Golf Club, Lalor said high school years are made successful by studying more than in the classroom.
“I learned a lot by working — waking up at 6:30, walking for hours in the sun, having to learn about people. My responsibility is to get the job done,” he said.
Lalor plans to major in finance at the University of Michigan.
Sharon Drake is a contributing writer.