Accepting the torch: Words from a 2020 graduate

Jasleen Batra
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 6/3/20

Dear Class of 2020, My name is Jasleen Batra, and I’m a high school senior at DSST: Byers High School. I wish I had the opportunity to thank my teachers and friends in person for all the help they …

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Accepting the torch: Words from a 2020 graduate


Dear Class of 2020,

My name is Jasleen Batra, and I’m a high school senior at DSST: Byers High School. I wish I had the opportunity to thank my teachers and friends in person for all the help they provided me these past four years of my life.

I also wish I had the opportunity to share these things with my school, but I think it’d be better shared with you.

First of all, congratulations! You did it! You’ve probably heard this a lot of times, but it’s saddening to see graduation cancelled. I wish we all could celebrate each others’ accomplishments and I’m so proud of all of you. The effort that you put in for the past few years of your life has paid off. You’re walking into the world a little bit smarter and a little bit more ready to change it.

Before we bid farewell to the past few years of your life, take time to preserve memories of the people who helped you along the way, the time your crush asked you out, the time where you felt supported. You crossed and built bridges with your family, your friends, your teachers, your peers, and also with yourself. You are the result of hard work. Take the time to thank the people who helped you, as well as yourself.

Finding home

Know that you will find your home away from home. Whether you’re leaving behind high school and living independently for the first time or finding your first “real world” job, know you will find home.

My high school experience wasn’t ideal. I didn’t feel welcomed at my school; I jumped around from friend group to friend group for four years and most people would only know me as a peer. It was only when I started joining extracurriculars outside of school — such as the Westminster Youth Advisory Panel and Broomfield Council on the Arts and Humanities Youth Advisory Board — did I truly find a place I could call home.

Though my high school journey was bumpy, it was made easier and memorable with the teachers that supported me, the people from my extracurriculars who saw the best in me, the mentors who checked in on me and the friends who listened to me and laughed with me.

If you feel uneasy about the future, I offer to you this quote from Creed Bratton of The Office: “No matter how you get there, or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.” You will find home.

You have the power to change the world. For the past two years, I’ve tutored the same group of students each week and each week I would become more amazed that I was tutoring them instead of them tutoring me. When I saw one person fall behind, I’d be amazed to see everyone pick them up. I’d watch them blossom into the most amazing group of friends I have ever met. I’d watch them support each other, have each other’s backs, listen to each other, and transform small thoughts into roaring flames of passion. I look at them knowing they’ll change the world. Change the world with your voice.

Looking for passion

Be prepared to find your passion in the weirdest of places. When I was in 11th grade, I had the opportunity to intern with former Governor Hickenlooper’s Press and Communications team. In all honesty, I chose this internship because it seemed like the least boring internship offered to me.

Today, I am grateful that I had this internship, because had I not had this opportunity, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my passion for politics and my drive to increase civic engagement in Colorado. I wouldn’t have been a part of the extracurriculars that taught me about supporting the voices of the people. I wouldn’t have been a part of the groups that made me feel heard, groups that gave me the best high school memories. Your passions can be unearthed in the most interesting places; embrace your passions and drive on.

Be persistent and be hopeful. This past college admissions season was a rocky road for me. I had gotten rejected from almost every school I applied to including my dream school, except for an acceptance from the University of Colorado Boulder, and a waitlist at New York University.

It was disheartening to open up a constant stream of rejection letters for three days, which made me feel horrible. The grief from these rejection letters made me feel upset and I felt shut off from the world for the month.

While laying on my couch, reflecting on admissions season, an email sprung up in my email saying a status update was ready to view about my admissions decision at NYU. Seeing how admissions with other universities went, I expected one last university to lay me down with one last rejection. I clicked on the status update only to read “On behalf of the admissions committee…” and knew I was rejected, but something made me read on, and I’m grateful it did, because I had actually been accepted. I remember running to my mom, crying and screaming “I GOT INTO NYU!”

There will be times where you think you should give up, but some beacon of light will tell you to shine on and hope.

I am so proud of you and the work you’ve accomplished within these past few years. Though it is sad to leave behind this part of your life, your best years are ahead of you. Your life is ahead of you and new experiences are waiting for you to uncover them.

Changing the world may seem like a large task, but it starts with small steps. Change one person’s world, and watch as you change everyone’s world. Be hopeful, take the time to dream. Do not be held back by those who do not see in you the power you have within you.

You have the torch to spark change. Use it.

Jasleen Batra is a member of the high school graduating class of 2020. She plans to attend CU Boulder this fall where she’ll major in economics and minor in political science.


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