My name is Tamara Soleymani and I have a confession. I struggled while writing this speech. And not just like I couldn’t churn the speech out in 30 minutes, I truly had trouble drawing inspiration for this speech. In all honesty, it’s no surprise that in today’s society I had trouble writing a speech about leadership. Think about the so-called leaders we have to look up to. Our sports players who are bound by “the integrity of the game” are involved in scandal after scandal. And our politicians are no better. My peers and I dread going to the polls and having to pick a candidate out of the stupendous group of people willing to run our country. How terrible that our leaders cannot lead!

While all of this is admittedly bleak and disheartening, there is hope. This hope exists in each and every one of the NHS inductees sitting before me. Each and every one of you is here because you possess leadership, a quality so rare today. The yearbook editors stay after school twice a week each week until 9:00 at night and give up all of their free time for the book. The captains of the sports teams motivate their teams and lead by example. The newspaper editors inspire their staff to make sure deadlines are met. We do all of these things, not because we enjoy badgering people to submit writing to Charlotte’s Web or giving up all of our free time, but because we have to. There is an innate call in us to be a leader and get things done.

So as we go on in our lives, I ask that you listen to this calling within you and lead. Don’t simply ignore it and take the easy path in life. Being a leader isn’t always easy or fun–in fact it rarely is. Don’t let this deter you. Don’t be afraid of taking the harder , more difficult path. Don’t be afraid of speaking out and speaking up for what you believe in. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be you. You are our hope for better leaders, leaders worth voting for and looking up to. Don’t let that go to waste.