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2018 Graduation Speech by Taniyah Whalen ’18 (Villa Duchesne ’24)

Good evening, my name is Taniyah Whalen.

This evening I will be sharing 2 paintings that I painted to represent my story as a scholar at City Academy.

The first painting is an image of a timid, quiet girl facing a brick wall, frighten by what is behind that wall. She is afraid and fears what lies ahead; academically, socially and emotionally. Afraid of failing a test, afraid of not fitting in, afraid of having a “voice” and most fearful of rejections that were bound to cloud her abilities and her true self.

The second painting tells the story of a girl much more vibrant and assertive. She has flourished and appears confident and sure of herself. Because of her assurance, she is able to climb the wall that she once found intimidating, and overcame the obstacles that at one time held her back.

I appreciate both of these paintings and my experiences through my years at City Academy. I really was the shy girl that spent half of my journey trying to identify with self. City Academy helped me find and appreciate me, and who Taniyah Whalen stands for. I am now the girl that is not afraid to speak up and speak out. While I am still a very reserved scholar, my voice is heard through all the commotion, and to me THAT is what makes me unique and grateful for such an experience. City Academy taught me to persevere through all the struggles, and value what lies behind the wall.

Of course, I am thankful for my City Academy Family, but I am even more appreciative of my Mother and her patience and will to keep me grounded. And to my Granny, thank you for helping me even when I didn’t think I needed it and for the laughter and inspirational talks on our way to school.

City Academy was the start of overcoming the brick wall, and I look forward to overcoming barriers as I continue my education at Villa Duchesne in the fall.

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