2014 Dux Speech, Matthew Singhavong

“Mr Brennan, Father Papworth, teachers, students and parents.

I must start by saying what a huge honour and privilege it is to be named Dux of Salesian College of 2013. At the beginning of this year, my aim was to just go out there and work to the best of my talents. I didn’t know what it might amount to, but I didn’t expect myself to be here giving this speech.

To the graduating class of 2014, I have only one point of advice for you, something that I learnt throughout last year:

Never neglect your life. VCE may seem to be the most important thing going on this year, and it’s easy to become caught up in the stress. But there are also things happening around you, and you should never push that aside or ignore it in order to cram for an extra 15 minutes. Learn to maintain that balance between your own health, your life and your work. So from my own experience, if your family needs you, listen. If your friends ask for advice, give it. It’s not worth losing friends and relationships over a little extra study. In the long run, those strained relationships will place a greater burden on your shoulders and whatever extra study you did will likely come undone anyway.

But this speech isn’t all about myself, it’s also about celebrating the achievements of the class of 2013. I would like to thank many people, and share congratulations.

So first off, to the 23 guys standing here on this stage today, I’d like to congratulate you all on your wonderful achievement. I’m proud to call myself a part of the class of 2013, knowing that I was part of such a talented and hardworking group of boys. Without their support, I doubt any of us would be able to reach the heights that we have. I’d like to bring special mention to Tim Wells, who was not only a great mate to me, but somewhat of an arch-nemesis. There was a little rivalry that brewed in the latter half of the year, exacerbated by our classmates who were adamant in trying to turn VCE into a competition. But ultimately I think it was the rivalry that motivated us to do more than we thought we could. The end result proved this too, we were separated by barely a fraction of a study score. So if anyone deserved to be standing here where I am, it would be Tim.

To my amazing parents, I couldn’t have asked for more. You gave me the space and room I needed to operate at my own pace, and that was what pushed me to pursue my goals and do as well as I did. There was no pressure from you for me to do what you wanted, you left it up to me and I could not thank you enough for it. I know it was a hard year for you to put up with me, as there were probably more downs than ups, and I was stressed out more often than not, but despite my short temper and bad attitude, you never stopped supporting me. Even when I wasted away my days playing games for hours on end, you turned a blind eye, understanding that it was what I needed to get my mind off all the work and that every now and then, even I needed to take a break. I’m not sure how I’ll ever repay you for putting up with my nonsense, but I hope that someday, I’ll be able to take care of you in the same way you have taken care of me.

To every teacher at Salesian College Chadstone, not only those that have taught me over the years, I thank you for creating such an atmosphere that allows us to not only thrive and succeed in our education, but also enjoy our life at the same time. To learn from teachers that genuinely enjoy passing on their knowledge, that genuinely care about the students, was a privilege that I will be ever thankful for. I’d like to bring special mention to each of the teachers that taught me for the duration of year 12: Mr Anastasiou, Mrs Paatsch, Mr McDonald, Mr Visentin, Mrs Hubber and Ms Tran in year 11. Your endless, devoted commitment to my success undeniably paved the path for me, and I hope that you will continue to give to this community what you have given to me. We’d be here all day if I tried to put into words how much each of you meant to me.

And now I leave you with a quote that I’ve always kept in the back of my mind: “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. Failure is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.” Make what you will of this quote. There is no one right philosophy on how to live your life, but I feel like this is a step in the right direction.

To the class of 2014, I wish you the very best of luck. I hope that all of you can be in this position at the same time next year, and you can look back on 2014 with the same nostalgia and fondness that I have. And once again, to the class of 2013, congratulations.

Thank you.”