(My Outstanding Young Distinguished Alumn Speech)

“Someday we’ll look back on our lives. We’ll look back on where we are right now, today. We’ll think of those people around us. Everything will flood back: Our anticipations and thoughts, our hopes and fears, all those emotions we felt as teenagers. Then we’ll remember how the old theater boards smelled. How hot the lights felt on our faces. How sweaty our palms were… Someday, when we’re older, we’ll stop for a minute and wish we were right in that very spot.”

“Well, right now is that wish come true. This is your moment. Let’s make it count.”

Mr. Fleming spoke those words and I’ve never forgotten them. We were all backstage before the final performance of the final play we would ever be in together, my last theater performance ever.

I’ve been blessed with an amazing career, an amazing life. Today I’m backstage at shows for another reason: I promote the music that I love. I work with amazing singers and songwriters and musicians and I wouldn’t trade my world for anything.

My job isn’t easy but it is my dream. This is my moment. Yes, sometimes I might stub my toe while on the phone with Ben Kweller and have to cry inside. Maybe I’ll butt-dial Kris Kristofferson. Maybe a DJ will yell because James McMurtry forgot to show up for his interview. Again. Yet even on my toughest days, my mother – San Marcos alum, Diana Hendricks – reminds me I’m living the dream. I truly am.

I wouldn’t have my dream job, my dream life without my time at San Marcos High School. I think back on Mr. Fleming’s words of wisdom all the time. I thought about them when Slaid Cleaves released a Number One album, when Gurf Morlix won an Americana Music award, when the Guy Clark tribute I worked was nominated for a Grammy. I have many dear friends and a wonderful and supportive family, but it’s Mr. Fleming’s voice I hear at those moments and wishes come true. “This is your moment. Let’s make it count.” They’re simple words but they’re so powerful. That’s the mark of a great teacher. They say two sentences that shape our lives.

Thank you, Mrs. Lindsey and the San Marcos Education Foundation,  Superintendent Eads and the school board,  Kim Porterfield,  and all who have made this day possible. I am deeply honored to receive this award and to stand here tonight with such an impressive group of former Rattlers.

The saying’s true: It really does take a village to raise a child. I’ve had many excellent teachers helping me learn along the way and I will forever be grateful for the incredible education I received here. I’d particularly like to thank Mrs. Witte, Mr. Martinez, Mr. Owen, Mrs. Buckner and, of course, Mr. Fleming for teaching me invaluable lessons that have stayed close to my heart ever since.

Now, let’s give back to the school district that helped us all become who we are today. Let’s celebrate the educators who believed we could to it all. Let’s encourage today’s students who will become even more than we ever dreamed we could be.

We can come home again – and more importantly, we should.  Someday we’ll wish we had.

We’ll wish that we were all right here again.

Remember: Right now is that wish come true.

Let’s make it count.