If you caught the star-studded “Graduate Together” event that streamed live and aired over four networks this weekend, you know that Santa Ana High valedictorian Priscilla Arceo was tapped to speak on behalf of her fellow 2020 graduates.
And if you didn’t see it, well, she crushed it.
Making a brief but impactful appearance, Arceo shared some of her own challenges, motivations and aspirations for the future.
“I’m here because of my mom’s hard work and sacrifice, but all that she did for me wasn’t always seen or appreciated by others,” she said. “That’s my biggest motivator, because when I’m successful and one day come back to help my community, her hard work will have been for something bigger than the two of us.”
Arceo, who will attend UC Santa Barbara in the fall, also offered some inspiring words for high school seniors whose lives — and commencements — have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Class of 2020, we’re all facing our own challenges, as a generation, as a community and as a planet, but I know we can overcome them,” she said. “We’ve shown the world what it means to be creative, resourceful and resilient.”
“I never thought I’d have to learn calculus over Zoom,” Arceo said. “We all lost out on prom and a proper graduation. We’re sad every day that we didn’t get to say goodbye to our classmates when schools closed down. And who knew we’d have to send ‘I miss you’ postcards to friends who live just two blocks away?”
Organized by the XQ Institute, the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” aired on Saturday evening on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and a number of websites.
The hour-long show was hosted by LeBron James and featured a commencement address from former President Barack Obama along with remarks from Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, clips of students from across the country, some comic relief, and performances by the Jonas Brothers, Dua Lipa, Alicia Keys, H.E.R. and a student pianist from Irvine’s Northwood High School.
According to a profile in the Orange County Register, Santa Ana Unified School District speech coach Sal Tinajero was the one who encouraged Arceo to submit a video audition after learning the show was looking for a student speaker.
“I was shocked when I got the call that I would represent valedictorians,” she told the Register.