By Michael Tinley ‘18
Along with fellow seniors Joshua Boulanger and Liam McGinnis, Damian Ovalle was asked to offer a reflection of his time at Brother Rice during the Hall of Fame assembly on January 19. I spoke with Damian about his speech and how he chose what he wanted to talk about in front of the whole student body and Brother Rice’s honored guests.
Tinley: First of all I would like to congratulate you on a terrific speech that really stood out compared to others in years past, especially because of your unique take on your transition to Brother Rice early in your high school years. Through this interview I want to dive deeper into your personal experience in being chosen to speak at such an event.
Tinley: What was your initial reaction to finding out that you would be speaking at the Hall Of Fame induction?
Ovalle: I was very surprised when I was asked to speak at the HOF induction because I am not what most would consider a popular kid in school. I am usually quiet towards everyone and I really only speak to my closest friends.
Tinley: When you were speaking at the HOF Induction, you seemed naturally comfortable and confident. Have you ever had to speak in front of a large audience before?
Ovalle: I do remember making a speech to a number of students during my eighth grade year in middle school when I was elected as student council as vice president. It must have been in front of 50 or 60 but nowhere near the magnitude of people that were at the HOF induction ceremony. So in reality, it was the first time I spoke in front of a large audience.
Tinley: If this was your first time giving a big speech, what emotions were you feeling right before you were about to speak? How were you able to control those nerves?
Ovalle: The days coming up to the speech, I was really nervous because I do have trouble with public speaking. Especially when presenting a project in front of my class, I will usually begin having a cracking voice and my hand will tend to shake. I could only think “What did I get myself into?” However, I knew that if I passed up this opportunity and did not make the most of it. I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life.
Tinley: As I mentioned before, your speech was very thoughtful and different in the way it was approached. What do you believe was the most important aspect to your speech?
Ovalle: The most important aspect of my speech was being able to thank those that have played a major role in my years at Rice. I wanted to make sure that those people knew how important they were to me and how much I was thankful for their friendship and guidance through the years. I saw this speech as a chance to show those people who helped me, especially my parents, that their sacrifices were not unnoticed and were not taken for granted. I wanted to prove to them and to all that I took every chance I had to succeed and made the most of it. Whether I succeeded or failed, I put every ounce of effort into this speech to defy expectations and to show that I have matured into a man at Brother Rice High School.
Tinley: Explain one takeaway that you hope the audience was able to find in your speech.
Ovalle: One takeaway I hope the audience was able to find is the fact that no matter where you come from, no matter how much money your parents make, no matter what you plan to become, Brother Rice High School can help push you beyond your limits. Whether you have a hard time making friends, getting good grades, or in my case just talking to people, Rice can help you build confidence in yourself and can also open you to an unlimited amount of resources which can be key to your success in the outside world. I honestly think Brother Rice has some of the greatest teachers in the nation and I am honored to have been a part of their class.
Tinley: How long did it actually take you to write the speech?
Ovalle: In all honesty, it took me about a day to write my speech for the HOF ceremony. We were told about the event on short notice which was exactly a week before the ceremony was to take place. I was, at that time, busy with school work and work that I really did not have a good chance to work on the speech until there was a day or two before the ceremony. On the first day, I wrote the introduction in about thirty minutes and then I stopped because of homework and studying. On the second day I knew I had to double down on the work, so I worked on the speech for about 4 hours straight and then I could finally revise it for another 30 mins. It was not done in best of circumstances but I definitely poured my heart into the speech and it was something I could be proud to present in front of the whole school.