Conor Haughey '12
Harvard University, Class of 2016The following is a speech Conor delivered at the Accepted Students Reception (April, 2016)
Good evening. First of all, welcome and congratulations to all for being accepted to St. Sebastian’s. My name is Conor Haughey. I graduated from St. Sebastian’s in 2012, and I am currently a senior at Harvard. I spent seven years as a student here at St. Sebastian’s, and I would do just about anything in the world to be in your shoes tonight with the opportunity to do seven more.
As my time in college is coming to an end and graduation is fast approaching, I have been reflecting a lot specifically on the past four years, and I am eternally grateful to St. Sebastian’s for the preparation that it gave me to succeed in college and to grow into a mature, confident, and spiritual young man, living with a greater mission and purpose to my life.
Academically, there are many tangible ways that my time at St. Sebastian’s has prepared me and helped me succeed at Harvard. To me, the most obvious example of this is the confidence and maturity that I left St. Sebastian’s with to be able to establish and develop close relationships with professors and other mentors that I have had at Harvard. After I graduated from St. Sebastian’s and was about to start at Harvard, Headmaster Burke challenged me and my classmates to really get to know at least one of my professors each semester. While this may seem difficult considering many of my classes have had well over 500 students in them, it was only natural for me based on my experience at St. Sebastian’s. I learned at St. Sebastian’s that in order for me to get the most out of my classes, I must fully invest myself in the class, and having a close relationship with your teacher both in and out of the class may be the most important aspect of that for me. I consider many of my teachers at St. Sebastian’s close friends, and the relationships that I had with my teachers that went well beyond the classroom allowed them to help me grow and succeed both in the class and as a person, and I have used my experience to try to replicate that with my professors and mentors at Harvard in order to fully maximize my experience and get the most out of my experience.
More important than the preparation for college, though, St. Sebastian’s graduates young men of character, and teaches the importance of what it means to be a good, well-rounded young man of faith and honor. The academic rigor, the religious and spiritual aspect, as well as the community environment that exist and are seamlessly integrated with one another at St. Sebastian’s creates an environment where students strive to be all that they can be in every aspect of life, and where your fellow students and teachers are genuinely invested in the your success, while as a student and for the rest of your life. When I graduated from St. Sebastian’s, I left a place that helped me grow in so many ways, a place that instilled in me the values of hard work, respect, discipline, and the importance of being a good kid. Now having left, knowing what St. Sebastian’s has taught me, in everything that I do, I try to make this place proud.
One of the most special things about St. Sebastian’s is that when you leave these halls after graduation, you leave as a leader in every aspect of the word. St. Sebastian’s is a very small and tight knit community, a community where you know that you will unfailingly be loved and cared for. It is in this environment where your teachers and your classmates encourage you to push yourself to difficult and uncomfortable lengths in the classroom and on the field. You learn how to fail, and you learn what it takes to succeed. You are taught that in order to succeed and in order to grow, you must put yourself out there, be vulnerable, be uncomfortable, and then overcome that through determination, persistence, courage, and discipline. St. Sebastian’s brings out the best in you, and it teaches you to tackle difficult situations head on while always doing the right thing, especially when the right thing is not the easy or popular thing. It in this environment at St. Sebastian’s where you learn how to better yourself, your peers, and your community. In my mind, that is the definition of a leader. My class from St. Sebastian’s is great example of how I have explicitly seen the lessons we learn here and how we carry them on after we leave play out. From my class, there are eight captains of their varsity collegiate sports, including captains of teams at Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth. Being a leader is both a challenge and a responsibility, and it is rarely easy, but St. Sebastian’s gives each of its students the tools and the power to be leaders in every way, and they carry that with them wherever they go and in whatever they do.
To the young men who have just been accepted: congratulations again. By virtue of your acceptance to St. Sebastian’s, you are all great young men in not one, but many aspects of life. If you come to St. Sebastian’s, know that you will be pushed to be the best student, the best athlete, the best brother, son, artist, musician, writer…to be the best kid that you can possibly be. The teachers and faculty at St. Sebastian’s are world class, and you will work as hard as you have ever worked to satisfy them and to make them proud, and they will bring out the best in you. At St. Sebastian’s, you will make the best friends that you will have for life and you will have the most fun that you could possibly have along the way.
To the parents and families: congratulations to you as well. St. Sebastian’s truly is a family affair. My parents and my two sisters are just as much part of the St. Sebastian’s family as I am, and they have been as fortunate as I have been to be a part of it. Know that at St. Sebastian’s, your sons will be surrounded by people who know him and love him, and are wholeheartedly invested in his success as a person, as a student, and as an athlete, while he is at St. Sebastian’s and for the rest of his life. St. Sebastian’s prepares its students to be complete, mature, and strong young men with the tools and the ability not only to survive, but to thrive in college and in life.
Thank you for coming tonight. Congratulations, once again, and I hope to see you all as Arrows next fall.