‘Be brave’: Norwalk High senior delivers simple message to graduates

Maria Fe Luque was named the Kevin M. Eidt Distinguished Student Speaker for the Norwalk High School/P-TECH Norwalk graduation ceremony on Friday, June 17.

Maria Fe Luque was named the Kevin M. Eidt Distinguished Student Speaker for the Norwalk High School/P-TECH Norwalk graduation ceremony on Friday, June 17.

Emily Morgan / Hearst Connecticut Media

NORWALK — Maria Fe Luque wants to remind her fellow graduates that they’ve already overcome so much in their journey to high school graduation and they are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

“We’ve been through so much together. I’ve heard so many people say that despite missing a year and a half, we’ve still been able to bounce back,” said Fe Luque, who was selected as the Kevin M. Eidt Distinguished Student Speaker for the Norwalk High School and P-TECH Norwalk graduation ceremony on Friday.

Fe Luque, who was born in Peru and immigrated to America around age 5, is excited to attend Harvard University in the fall. She already enjoyed a welcoming experience at the school during its admitted students weekend known as “Visitas,” a play on the school’s motto, “Veritas.” At college, she plans to get a degree in American studies while also pursuing an interest in religious studies.

The Kevin M. Eidt Distinguished Student Speaker also awarded Fe Luque a $2,500 scholarship from Kevin’s Fund. Norwalk High School memorialized its distinguished student speaker for Kevin Eidt when it moved from GPA to a Latin Honors system.

The graduating senior shared her message of resiliency as well as how she deals with the daily pressures of school and life, what she expects from her fellow graduates, and the moment that led her on the path she’s taking to Harvard.

Q: What do you do to de-stress?

A: Hanging out with friends. There’s just something about sharing an experience with someone else. I remember this one thing my sister told me, “If you’re doing something, just worry about that thing.” Live in the moment … and you will not regret it.

Q: What excites you about your future?

A: Something that really excites me is I’m going to be entering the world with a clean slate, almost. I’m really excited of how open minded I’ll be to take everything in whether it’s in education or experiences at Harvard or after that, too. I’m excited to see who the person is I become from all that I’ve learned.

Right now, I don’t know much. Although I do know enough to graduate, I don’t know much about the world. I’m just excited to see how the world works and to understand the people who have spoken to me, how they view the world. I want to view the world through my own lens.

Q: What scares you about your future?

A: What scares me is how much I don’t know. I will make mistakes, I will veer off my path, but I hope we are resilient, and we will bounce back. Everyone has to make mistakes, but it’s more than that. It’s everyone has to try and fail and try and fail and I know I will do that, but I’m excited for what that result will be after trying and failing and trying and failing and how I will end up at the end of the day.

Q: What is your message to your fellow graduates?

A: We are all resilient. With this resiliency, we will carry that onto the next chapter of our lives. We’ve overcome so many things this year from the pandemic from having to wear masks to taking them off, to that one week where we all got COVID after New Year’s Eve. My overarching theme is resiliency. To remind them to put your heart and soul into everything and only good will come from it.

Q: What expectations do you have for your generation?

A: I expect my generation to be the one that of course not only brings positive change but also makes a lot of people become aware of others’ opinions. I think we as a society, we’re close minded and we don’t care about the other and their thoughts. I want my generation to be open to it all, to take it all in, to assess thoroughly with an open mind. I really think going through a pandemic, going through all these things, I think we have so much potential to create good things out of what we went through, suffered through.

I see leaders in our group and everywhere — in Brien McMahon, in other schools. I see leaders and as we graduate, I know we’re proud of what we’ve done, and I want us to continue to be proud of what we’ll become. I know there is change coming and we’re all leaders in the making for a real, truly better tomorrow.

Q: What advice do you have for underclassmen?

A: Two simple words: Be brave. Be brave in what you try. Be brave in what you’re scared to do. Be brave in everything and never give up. The least you can get is a “no,” and even then you can keep on trying. Being brave, it makes you strong. It makes you confident. But being brave gives you the power to do the unimaginable. What you think you can’t do. It makes the impossible possible.

I say be brave a lot. Those are some words that my grandma always told me. In Spanish of course — sé valiente. She was a teacher for 70-plus years. She’s no longer with us, but I know she would want me to tell you this and tell my class this.

Q: What was a defining moment in your life?

One moment that definitely changed my perspective and made me focus on my academics was my oldest sister’s graduation. She graduated from UConn in 2016. I was like 11 or 12, still very young to understand the entirety of it. I remember being in this huge stadium and impatiently waiting for her to finally go up. But I didn’t know what that meant. When she finally went up, she was in this white cap and gown and she was cheesing, smiling everywhere. Getting her diploma, taking a picture with the backdrop of UConn. From then, I started questioning it and realizing that it’s a right of passage.

She inspires me a lot because she came here at the age of 16 and still managed to graduate on time … and went to UConn, which is amazing. It was amazing for our family.

I just saw my other sister graduate from Boston College last month. Now, I actually understand. That one was also very rewarding. Now it’s my turn.

emily.morgan@hearstmediact.com