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Lancers charge into world
East Union High Class of 2016
GRADS EAST UNION7 5-27-16 copy
Graduating senior Haley Sengstacken lines up for her diploma during the 2016 East Union graduation ceremonies. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Jagveer Singh didn’t ask for his fellow East Union graduates to go out and change the world.
But what the valedictorian did do when he had his moment to speak to his peers and leave them with lingering words at the school’s commencement ceremony Thursday night at Dino Cunial Field.
Just be crazy enough to think that you can change the world.
While his address was littered with insights and information that the first generation American shared with his fellow graduates, he ended with a quote from Apple founder and tech visionary Steve Jobs that has come to represent the entire ethos of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who are actually changing the people interact across the globe.
“People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who usually do.”
It was a lofty proclamation to cap of a speech to the packed stadium, but considering Singh’s background, it makes perfect sense.
When he started kindergarten at Brock Elliott Elementary School, he didn’t speak a word of English. And in his 13 years since then in Manteca Unified, he not only mastered the language and a culture that was foreign to his family, but he managed to hold an impeccable academic record during the process.
His story, he said, was rife with challenges. But at the end of the day, everybody has a chance to get back up from their stumbles and make course corrections that can have a lifetime’s worth of impact.
“We’re always going to have the opportunity to get back up, improve upon ourselves, and make a difference to the people around you,” Singh said to his graduates.
And he wasn’t the only speaker who drew from his familial roots to tell a story that was classically American – about later generations making the most of the opportunities that weren’t available to previous generations in other countries.
Co-salutatorian Aiko Jones talked about how every summer she would bring her end-of-the-year report card back to her grandfather in Japan who would muster up an “I’m so proud of you” in his best broken English – something that resonated with her as she spoke to her classmates, family and friends.
“Don’t forget what you worked so hard for these last 12 years,” Jones said. “So to the Class of 2016, I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.”
Caitlin Oberman, who served as the Co-Salutatorian with Jones, was a little more pointed in her comments.
“People say that these are supposed to be the best four years of our lives,” she said. “And I hope that is only a fallacy. It’s always good to look back, but we need to strive to make each new day better than the last, enjoy the moments, and take the life changing opportunities as they arise.”
It wasn’t just the scholarly students that had the opportunity to address the crowd either.
Every year East Union holds an open tryout for one senior to speak at graduation, and this year the honor went to Brenda Hinton – who started her high school career at Pacheco High School in Los Banos.
And she wasn’t in a very good place with her studies when she arrived at East Union.
While her speech was somewhat interrupted by what appeared to be a medical emergency in the crowd, Hinton talked about how she started with literally no points in her Biology class and through her exposure with quality teachers and classmates on campus, changed her entire attitude and outlook on what she wanted to get from her education.
It didn’t take long before she ended up with a 4.0 grade point average for the semester.
“I’ve met some amazing people since I’ve been here, and everybody out there has a story and has people that helped them get to where they are today,” Hinton said. “It’s about making choices and I can stand here today and say that I’m proud of the choice that I’ve made here at East Union.”