‘Who you are not:’ Hoch sends off graduating Wildcats with words of heart, humor and humility

Redlands East Valley High School holds their graduation ceremony yearly at the historic Redlands Bowl in downtown Redlands, a staple and source of pride to generations in the community. (Ethic Photo)


On June 5, the Redlands East Valley High School class of 2019 was honored with a traditional graduation ceremony at the historic Redlands Bowl, complete with talented student and staff graduation speeches.

The graduates heard from seniors Maha Quadri and Brenton Holbeck and were presented with a unique charge from ASB-nominated graduation teacher speaker Andrew Hoch.

Redlands East Valley High School science teacher Andrew Hoch stands outside his classroom. (Ethic Photo)

At REV, Hoch mainly teaches AP Biology and has a degree in both biology and chemistry. He attended the University of California, Riverside, but acknowledges that it was not a picture-perfect journey. In his speech, he stated that he changed his major four times.

The heartfelt advice Hoch offered to the graduates was genuine, and he said that he wishes someone had told him those words when he graduated high school.

Here are the exact words spoken by Hoch at the 2019 graduation:

Who Are You Not Going to Be?

Faculty, Staff, Board of Education, Family members and friends, and especially the class of 2019

I first want to thank the class of 2019 for selecting to me to give this graduation address. This is a tremendous honor. I also want to thank the parents, guardians, family members and friends of those in that are in attendance, because for most of you students, without them, you being here today wouldn’t be possible. So class of 2019, turn around, and take a moment and acknowledge those that have helped you in any way to get to this moment.

So when I was asked to give this address, I really had to think about advice I can give from my life experiences, or life defining moments. And I would ask myself, what are those things that I can share?

I started researching what a great charge address is, and usually what I came across was someone like a coach sharing about the season his team had. The crowd cheers, the message was something like how you can take that mindset on the field out into the real world. Another example was a strong, powerful female, explaining how she has dealt with adversity, and implemented change for the greater good.

But I am neither of those two things. I teach science.

So when it comes to getting you guys excited, I don’t have plays from the field I can share, or stories that I defied society and stuck it to the man. I can shout out things like, “mitochondria” or “nucleus” and yes, you should get psyched for those things, but you see in life, I feel like it is important to acknowledge what you’re not, to help define who you truly are.

I am not a coach, I haven’t defied systemic oppression, and I don’t have years of elderly wisdom to instill.

The reality of it is, before I was asked to give this address, I have been thinking about life, and advice that I found valuable. This is because as some of you may know; my wife and I are having our first child, a baby boy, in a little over a month… So I had been thinking about lessons I want to teach my child, like “Do what makes you happy,” “Try your best,” or “Make the world a better place.”

But last week, we received a book as a gift for our baby. The book is titled “Dear Boy” and I have It right here. And this children’s book is where I found one of life’s most valuable piece of advice. Let me share these first few pages to you

“Dear Boy, Believe in yourself before others can believe in you. Dear boy, It’s okay if you don’t run the fastest, just be the boy, who gives it your all”

and “Dear boy, it’s okay not to know.”

It’s okay to not know!

If I were to ask you, right here, right now, today, who are you going to be, would you be able to answer that question? Some of you might have an answer to that, which is fantastic, but perhaps many of you don’t, and that is okay.

There is an abundance of options about what this next step in life is, and life truly is what you make. This next year, literally everyone is going to ask you what you’re going to do. But too many options can be overwhelming.

So rather than asking what are you going to be, I am going to ask you, “What are you NOT going to be?”

As you are about to embark on this next chapter in your life, whatever it may be, is that you need to know who you are not, before you can establish WHO YOU REALLY ARE.

Just being honest, when I was sitting where you are, there was excitement and a total freak out about what this next thing in life was going to be. It felt like everyone had this outlandish plan, and I am not here to say that those that have it figured out are wrong; but I do want everyone here to know that it’s okay to not know what this next step is going to be; BUT you need to know WHAT it’s not going to be. Is it going to be something? Or is it going to be nothing?

At my high school graduation I didn’t know what college I was going to. Really random, but I think I started off as an English major. I quickly learned English as a major wasn’t my thing. I am not saying that I failed, because you need to know your failures don’t define you, but it simply just wasn’t for me. In fact, I think that my first year, I changed my major about four times.

And don’t think this message about knowing who you’re not specifically applies only to your career or school. A more recent example of knowing who I am not was from one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, which was having to ref the powder puff game.

If there is anybody here that doesn’t know about powder puff, it is when the girls of the junior class play football against the girls of the senior class. You see, for whatever reason, I think people think I know about sports more than I actually do. I was assured that in this position I wouldn’t have to do more than move a few flags. Literally the first two plays people started screaming at me yelling phrases like “off sides” or “holding” I think somebody said “goaltending,” which I don’t even think is football. I just rose up both hands. That’s what I thought refs do. People yelled; it was very awkward, I knew I wasn’t a ref or a football guy. So a silly example, but this game assured me I know that I am not a good fit for powder puff. I’ll stick to science. I am just not a sports guy.

So when I think about what really has helped me in life, it is not this one defining moment. It’s these little moments of learning who I wasn’t that made more of an impact on my life rather than taking “guess” on who I was.

You might have in life a group of friends that you hang out with that really might not bring out the best in you, and you will learn that is who you’re not…..you may be chasing a dream that you learn isn’t really isn’t your dream….. You might have a device in you hand that keeps giving you an excuse not to get out of the house ….which will prevent you from engaging in the real world. ….

By doing less of what is not you, and more of what IS YOU, You are going to get better at things that are important to you.

So my message to you is that it’s okay to not know. Learning who you are not, or what not to do, is CRITICAL to defining who you are. I didn’t know what the next step after high school was going to be, but I’ve learned what I didn’t want to be. When I got married, I didn’t know the kind of husband I was going to be, but I knew kind that I wasn’t. And when I have my first child, I might not know EXACTLY the kind of father I will be, but I certainly know the kind that I am not.

So class of 2019, you are “my kids.” And as I stand here with this book, reading a book to my kids, I want you to know it is “okay to not know” They say everything happens for a reason, and that may be true; or not, I don’t know. But I can promise you that everything happens. So use moments in your life to learn who you aren’t.

So Class of 2019 let me tell you who you are not…

You’re not the school that lets being the first to go to college be a barrier to your success through the amazing Avid Program (which had a 100% college acceptance rate).

You’re not the generation that doesn’t understand memes… seriously; there is probably already 20 of them floating around about me this second. But you do them so well. 

You’re not the generation that is not accepting of others differences. 

You’re not the generation is afraid to question authenticity, and you don’t want to leave the world the way it is.

You’re not the generation that is not afraid to be successful.

So as we close, by whatever life throws at you, figure out who you’re not in life.  

Let me read you the final page of this book,

“Ready? On your mark, get so, Go!”

Lea este artículo en español aquí: https://laplaza.press/2019/06/08/quien-no-eres-hoch-despide-a-los-wildcats-graduandose-con-palabras-de-corazon-humor-y-humildad/


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