MANASSAS, VA — Tania Salmeron, a graduating senior from Osbourn High School in Manassas, admits in her winning graduation speech that she didn't try as hard as she should have when she was a freshman. Tania says she refused to ask for help from her teachers or classmates when she was struggling with a subject. But then she decided to make changes at school when she saw that her grades were suffering.
Tania eventually started taking her classes seriously. She asked for help from her teachers and students and her grades started to improve. "When I started seeing better grades, I was happy about it," Tania says in her speech. Without her teachers at Osbourn High School pushing her to do better, she said she wouldn't have succeeded in school.
Tania also emphasizes in her speech that she is blessed to have parents who offered encouragement.
When other people in her life told her to give up or drop out of a school, Tania ignored them. "If you have haters who say negative things, ignore them until they fade away," she says.
Tania's speech is one of the top speeches submitted by high school seniors across Virginia that Kaine has posted on his Facebook page and website. The Virginia senator posted Tania's speech on Thursday. Kaine will be posting one high school senior's speech each day through the end of June.
With many in-person high school graduations postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus, Kaine encouraged Virginia's graduating high school seniors to submit a video of an original speech they would like to give at graduation.
Kaine said he felt a sense of loss for the graduates and wanted to give all high school seniors in Virginia the chance to be a graduation speaker.
"One of the many groups of Virginians I've been thinking about during this challenging time is the graduates of the class of 2020, many of whom won't have the graduation experience they've been planning for a long time," Kaine said in a statement.
Tania finishes her winning speech by telling her classmates and people around the world not to let the coronavirus pandemic deter them from striving for excellence.
"This pandemic that is upon us made us stay home for a while, but it doesn’t mean your dreams are over," she says. "It’s about what you’re going to do now and how. I hope this speech will help. ... I want everyone to succeed."