6/8/2017 CBA grads urged to remain connected to Jesus
CBA Strong -- A sea of royal blue filled the College Arena in Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, May 18 as the 233 graduating seniors from Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, were awarded their diplomas during the school's commencement exercises. Joe Moore photo
Pride and Joy -- The Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, community upholds a beloved Baccalaureate Mass tradition during which each of the graduating seniors presents his mother with a carnation. The Baccalaureate Mass was celebrated May 17 in St. Mary Church, Middletown, with Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., serving as principal celebrant. Joe Moore photo
Matthew Prince Valedictory Speech
Good Evening Brother Frank, Mr. Fales, Mr. Nunan, Mr. Finn, Mrs. Szablewski, teachers, families, and fellow graduates.
In his book Outliers, one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, attempts to redefine how we think of success and successful people. As the Class of 2017 now looks optimistically toward the future, I would like to draw upon his ideas on success and offer some of my own.
In discussions about successful people, we often hear the word “talented” or “gifted” used to describe the individual in question. I don’t think that it’s fair to talk about successful people this way. I don’t think that anyone has an easy path to success because I don’t believe that innate talent exists. Even those whom we view as prodigies had to spend thousands of hours perfecting their abilities. Mozart, for example, started writing music at six, but his first pieces are generally regarded as unexceptional. It was not until he was twenty-one – after fifteen years of focused practice – that Mozart composed his first masterpiece. Success, especially creative success, demands not natural ability but consistent and focused practice. Mark Twain (another one of my favorite authors) spent ten years writing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the work that is often considered the central piece of all American literature. During that time, he constantly ran into dead ends, having to rewrite entire chapters or even start the book over from scratch. Huck Finn was not some fantastic stroke of genius that was written in a couple of months; it was the culmination of a decade of failure, frustration, despair, and constant revisions, changes, and even complete overhauls of the entire novel. Mark Twain’s long path to completing Huck Finn illustrates that most, if not all, successful people had to fail many, many times before they found success. Failure is a critically important tool of the ambitious individual, for it is through failure that we grow and develop, honing our skills. The lessons learned from failure are what separate experts from novices. I have found this idea to be true in most aspects of life, including school, athletics, and creative expression in art, literature, or music.
Equally as important on our paths to success as learning from failure is the ability to recognize and take advantage of opportunities presented to us. In 1968, a twelve-year-old boy living in Seattle, Washington was exceedingly lucky that the Mother’s Club at his middle school spent three thousand dollars – the sum of all their fundraising that year – on a computer terminal that could connect to a larger mainframe computer in downtown Seattle.
By the time the school ran out of money to purchase computing time, this boy had spent hundreds of hours programming with the machine and, more importantly, had developed an insatiable thirst for the knowledge of computing. Throughout his time in high school, the young man woke up at three in the morning and walked to the campus of the University of Washington, one of the only institutions in the world at that time that had computers. He worked every day between the hours of 3 and 6 a.m., the only time during which he could use the computers without being noticed. Eventually, someone at the university did notice this boy’s unauthorized computer usage, but luckily, the administrators did not ban him but rather offered him free computing time in exchange for his working on a piece of software for the university. For the entirety of his time in high school, he spent early mornings, weeknights, and whole weekends in the computer lab at Washington. This boy’s name is Bill Gates. He is one of the most successful people alive in America.
Before he turned twenty-one years old, Gates had accumulated over 10,000 hours of programming experience, at a time when just a tiny fraction of the population had ever seen a computer, let alone used one. He was extraordinarily lucky – far luckier than any of us could hope to be – but there are many lessons that can be learned from his story of success. Gates recognized opportunity that nobody else could – that three-hour window during which everyone else was sleeping – and took full advantage of it. During the thousands of hours he spent learning programming, Gates undoubtedly went through the same process that Twain went through, struggling and failing and finally mastering the concepts of computing so that by his twenty-first birthday he had more knowledge of programming than arguably anyone in the world. I think this story paints an excellent picture of success.
Success is really nothing more than preparation and opportunity, and for this reason, my advice to the Class of 2017 is the following: pursue your ambitions, but understand that you will fail many, many times. Don’t fight it. Learn from your failures; always be improving yourself so that when you’re given your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you are ready.
Thank you again to the faculty and administration and congratulations to the Class of 2017!
By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
Two days of solemnity and celebration marked the rite of passage of 233 seniors of the 55th graduating class of Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, to the wider academic landscape.
The events began May 17 in St. Mary Church, New Monmouth, the setting for the academy’s Baccalaureate Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.
The nave, which seats more than 1,000 comfortably, was filled to standing room capacity with parents, relatives and friends of the graduating seniors, many of whom often seemed clearly moved by Bishop O’Connell’s homily.
Referring to the Gospel reading, John 15, the Bishop urged the graduates to take the words to heart. “All kinds of thoughts fill the minds and hearts of those present tonight. There are no coincidences as the Gospel speaks to you. Jesus asks you to remain [in him] as he remains [in you].”
“I am not here tonight as a commencement speaker, but to deliver God’s message. As long as we remain connected,” to Jesus, he said, “you will have life … without Jesus you can do nothing.”
Bishop O’Connell challenged the departing students to enter into the world as the men of faith and action their parents want them to be. “It’s what you came here to be … remember the words as you go forth.”
A day later, on May 18, the class and their family members united once again, this time at the College Arena in Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, for commencement exercises.
CBA principal R. Ross Fales began the ceremony by recalling Bishop O’Connell’s message to remain men of integrity as the graduates begin studies in a wide range of disciplines in colleges and universities, including many Catholic institutions, around the United States.
Of the 233 graduating seniors, 220 will be attending four-year schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report as among the best universities or colleges nationally or regionally. Two-thirds of the Class of 2017 received merit-based scholarships, totaling $23,576,000.
Nicholas Karris delivered the ceremonial opening address as salutatorian, and Matthew Prince delivered the valedictory address. In his speech, Prince called to mind the story of Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who endured many setbacks before his rise to multi-billionaire, industry-leading CEO.
“Pursue your ambitions, but understand that you will fail many, many times,” he said.
Theresa Morreale, a member of St. Gabriel Parish, Marlboro, described herself as being “very proud” of her son, Salvatore, who will begin studying biology this fall at Pennsylvania State University with an eye toward becoming a dentist.
She credits CBA for inspiring the man he will become.
“It was his decision to come here,” said Morreale, who added that her son, Peter, 16, is a CBA sophomore. “I’m so happy that they are part of the LaSalle tradition. The brothers are such an example.”
Graduate Alexander Alacan, who plans to study sports management at Temple University, Philadelphia, stood with his parents, Edgar and Monica, members of St. Rose, Belmar.
Noting that his brother, Maximus, is a sophomore at the school, Alacan’s parents agreed that CBA is, as his dad put it, “a place that helps form honest and responsible men who always make the right choice and go out of their way to be the best they can be.”