Good morning teachers, JM alumni, administrators, friends and family, and of course the class of 2021.

I have heard my fair share of graduation speeches so I will spare you the high school musical references (even though we literally are all in this together), as well as the future doctor/lawyer/engineer montra.

When I first came to John Marshall, I was under the impression that high school would be the best four years of my life. And although I, like many of you, I did enjoy my time here, the true best years of my life are yet to come.

John Marshall has taught us all a variety of lessons, lessons that I am sure many of us will carry into the next chapter of our lives. But most importantly: y= mx+b and mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Yes, I will for sure use that later in life, thank you Mrs. Bachman and Mrs. Vadis.

As time progressed I learned that I did not know as much as I thought I did about the living breathing world around me. So my fellow classmates, I am encouraging you to explore and to take risks.

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We are a class of survivors. Three-fourths of our senior year was spent behind a screen but here we are today, thriving in person. It is such a pleasure and a privilege to find myself surrounded by society’s current and future champions. To find myself in a room that holds such robust potential. Because we are in fact stronger than we give ourselves credit for. And what we have learned up until this point is crucial for what is to come.

Whether you plan on college, a gap year, an internship, or to explore the options the world has to offer, do what gives you enthusiasm. In the words of my favorite calculus teacher on the planet: do what brings you joy because true success is achieved when you’ve done what makes you happy.

So class of 2021, as we go our own separate ways I challenge you to turn your potential success into kinetic success, to bring yourself the joy you deserve, and to give yourselves the time to decide who and what you want to be.

Zuri Cofer is a graduating senior at John Marshall High School.

Read more Rochester graduation speeches:

James Kung: Victory

Sarah Strauss: The future is ours

Marissa Ding: COVID can't take our Rocket Pride

Maimuna Aden: The power we wield

Sonia Teh: You are not alone