Lakewood High Senior Akosh Raffai was named this year’s West Shore Outstanding Student for 2018. He was chosen due to his exemplary technical skill, academic prowess and service. Raffai, a student in the Project Lead the Way - pre-engineering program was also the recipient of a Career-Technical Honors Diploma and inducted into the National Technical Honor Society.
Raffai was asked to speak to his fellow West Shore students regarding what being a part of Career Technical Education (CTE) means to him. His speech follows:
Hello graduates. To see so many bright individuals in front of me is truly amazing. Four years ago as we stepped into these halls, the idea of graduation seemed like a distant goal, but soon we will be embracing our post-high school future. This is such a remarkable turning point in our lives, and the opportunities beyond are so exciting. However, as we look ahead, I think we should also look back at how we got here. I would like to take a moment to reflect on the great lessons that the career-tech program has taught me, and all of us. To say that high school has been a tough change in life would be an understatement. From the first day walking in, I have always had the idea pressed at the back of my mind that we enter as children and leave as adults. This is such a large transition for students both academically and personally. However, it is one that we have accomplished well and with great success.
Academically, Career-tech students learn complex and challenging topics. From Auto-Tech’s studies of car engines and Networking’s work with computer systems, to PLTW’s Autodesk drafting and Culinary’s food preparation, the rigorous work that each department studies exemplifies the dedication that all of you have for learning. For me, the Engineering program served as a great stepping stone through high school academics. I took the core classes just like every student, but I found that I reinforced these skills through my technical classes. The algebra that I learned in math class was mastered in calculating stress and strain in my Principles of Engineering class. The concepts of electricity learned in science class were put to the test in designing circuits in my Digital Electronics class. Career-tech has taken our academics to the next level by putting the concepts that we learn into real-life applications in technical classes. These classes have also given me a drive for my future studies. Entering high school, I was unsure of what career I would pursue. But in taking engineering classes, I was given a chance to explore that field. We drafted sketches, modeled bridges, and built circuits. Through hands-on learning, I felt like I had a understanding of the values and goals of engineers, and it sparked my interest and later commitment to that field. I know many of you likely have made similar decisions with your own classes.
But although our academics are important, I believe character to be the more meaningful teaching of Career-tech. Looking around this room, I don’t see students, but friends. I have made so many great memories through these classes. Yes, we work hard, but we also order Chinese carryout and pizza. Yes, we learn Boolean algebra, but we also make terrible drawings of George Boole in Microsoft paint. Yes, these classes were challenging, but to say I didn’t have fun would be a lie. From the times that our class would perform silly skits to karaoke solos, there have been countless times that the bond between our classmates has grown closer. I’m sure you all know and appreciate the people around you much more than you did four years ago. Furthermore, the friendliness that you all possess goes hand-in-hand with the cooperative teamwork that you exemplify. Throughout my senior capstone project, my group has been through thick and thin, we’ve had countless failures and successes. In the process of our work, we have melted circuit boards and blown a fuse in my friend’s car. But we have also had moments where after weeks of disappointment, we accomplish success in our project that gets us just that one step closer to our goal, the moments that make us proud. This struggle of obstacles has demonstrated to me the necessity of teamwork, dedication, and persistence. These are all attributes that I know Career-tech students exemplify and embody to the highest degree. With the tight friendships that we have formed with each other and the demonstrated dedication that you all uphold, it is clear that the people in front of me represent the best characteristics of success. In seeing the change in character that has occured over the past four years, you show the blossoming attributes of future leaders, innovators, and great people.
It is true that everyone enters high school as a child and leaves as an adult. However, with this transition through Career-tech, we don’t just leave as adults, but as pioneers for the future. Your academics have given you a leading edge in practical skills, and your character has set you up for success at college and work. Everyone has a door of opportunities open for them, but you have worked hard to open that door a little bit wider, maybe just wide enough to put that dream job or school within reach. Graduation signifies the end of an era in life, but also the grandest beginning. Appreciate the path that you have taken, but be proud of where you will go. High school has surrounded us with many great things, but everything you need for success is already within you. You are all front-runners of your generation, prepared for anything that you decide to tackle in life. We have bright futures ahead, and I wish you all the best of luck.