Home » 10th Season (2022-2023) » The Ely Speech Prize for The Global Seminar: Signature

The Ely Speech Prize for The Global Seminar: Signature

By Divi Bhaireddy, III Form

The Ely Speech Prize for The Global Seminar: Signature

The Ely Prize in Public Speaking, originally given by a member of the Class of 1892 in memory of his mother, is presented to the student who gave the best speech in the Global Seminar Public Speaking Competition.

Someday in the future, I will be someone’s ancestor. People will tell stories about me; what I did with my life, what family I made, and the impact I left behind. Those people in the future won’t know how I laughed or how I smiled, my quirks or my chatter, but instead, they’ll know all that I did with my life. My name will be passed down, and how I decide the way my name is remembered, is all in my hands. 

In the beginning of this school year, one of the first assignments we had in The Global Seminar was titled, “2.1 Our Names & Our Places in the World”. It was all about what our names meant and how it reflected our stories. And although we hadn’t chosen that name, it was still ours. 

Our names were given to us by other people. Whether it be your mother or your father who gave it to you, your grandmother or your religion, it isn’t your choice. My name is Divi. My full name: Divija. It means born in heaven. And since I was a child, my name has been mispronounced when people first meet me because it isn’t one that they have encountered before. But, this year in TGS, we learned about Hinduism. How rich my culture is and how sacred our beliefs are. We learned about Samsara, which is a cycle of life ultimately to reach a state of Moksha; enlightenment. It helped me gain a deep appreciation for my name and all its uniqueness. And once I came to terms with my love for my name, it was time for the hard part: how I wanted that name to represent me. 

I was nervous coming into a school like St. Mark’s because here each person I met would likely live with me for the next four years. But, I was also excited to find out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. Soon, course selection rolled around, and I found myself looking far into the future and thinking about how to strategize the courses I take in sophomore year to add up to the career choosing path I would embark on during my senior year. But, what if I changed my mind? What if I would lose interest in what I chose? These thoughts made me scared. During a talk my family and I had shared where I had expressed my uneasiness for the future, my parents had reassured me that it was ok that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. At the end of the day, I was a 15 year old girl who had time along the road to create that part of her story.

Along with the image that I create for myself, the people that I hold near to my heart are just as important. In TGS, we learned about a person’s Universe of Obligation. Starting with myself in the center, and fanning out to those I love the most. The people in the smallest ring of my Universe are people who might be around longer than I am, so how my name is remembered will matter. Also, the company that I surround myself with is important. Like the Greek saying states, “Show me your company, and I will tell you who you are.” Those that you surround yourself with leave a lasting impact on the person you are or want to be. It hadn’t hit me until I made my own Universe of Obligation and it was completely in my power to choose who I held near to my heart. This showed that people who are smart, and kind, and compassionate and funny were in the smallest ring of my Universe. This is a mirror of what I would like to be. The company I keep is a reflection of the type of person I am building towards everyday.

People say that life is unfair. And, I’ll agree that hurdles, however big or however small, will be thrown at you, whether you asked for it or not. So what’s the point of working towards that ultimate personality you aspire to embody if it can all get knocked down by forces you never asked for? Though I have only been here for a short 15 years, I can conclude this one thing: you do it for the sake of your name being remembered. And again, I’m only 15, and half the obstacles life has thrown at me are minor inconveniences compared to what will come my way, but TGS has taught me to embrace my name and my company; creating a lasting impact I will be proud of.

So if I took anything away from this year in TGS, it is this: everyone’s life is like a painting. Each stroke and splotch is a decision made and a friend that is cherished. Each twist and turn is all created by the life I lead. And the person who is guiding that paintbrush is me. I may not have chosen the color palette I use or the type of canvas I start with, but the end result, a story, is ultimately my choice. And that last stroke you mark on the canvas, a signature, that name that you possess, is what calls that work of art yours. Your message and your meaning for those who will look at your life and think of the streak you left behind.

Divi Bhaireddy is currently a IV form boarding student.

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