The 2022-2023 senior speaker series continued on February 13. It featured seven members of the Class of 2023: Ryan Jewell, Haden Kriston, Brayden Mazzoni, Will O’Connor, Carter Scott, Idrissa Ballo, and Brendan Mastella.
Ryan Jewell, a three-year senior from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, talked about resilience in the face of adversity, defining resilience as “the ability to display fortitude amid unfavorable conditions and be thankful for the life God has instilled.” He cited losing his sister as exceedingly impactful to his own resilience and said, “I honor my sister in every aspect of my life. She is my daily motivation and has helped me become the person I am today.”
Haden Kriston, a postgraduate from Chicago, Illinois, spoke about the lessons he’s learned during times of instability in his life: life is all about relationships, stop comparing yourself to others and prioritize yourself; be positive; and he finished, “However, none of these rules I mentioned before matter if you don’t follow this one first: And that is to love yourself. You can’t truly love others if you don’t love yourself first.”
Brayden Mazzoni, a postgraduate from Bridgeport, Connecticut, talked about some of the things he’s learned in his past eighteen years. He said, “Size, smarts, and natural ability only bring you so far. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do anything. You decide your own destiny. Failure is not bad, it is crucial. Get back up. Learn to want what you already have; don’t become attached to things. People and experiences will bring you fulfillment. Living life only for yourself is not living, it is existing. Relationships are key. Build them.”
Will O’Connor, a postgraduate from Darien, Connecticut, shared a thank you letter he wrote to his mom. Among many other kind things, he said, “Thank you for always attempting to keep me happy, safe, protected, and nourished. Thank you for your unconditional kindness, caring, and immeasurable patience. Thank you for looking out for me even when I didn’t think I needed it and for letting me fall when I had to learn by making my own mistakes.”
Carter Scott, a four-year senior from Southwick, Massachusetts, spoke about his little brother Zander. He said, “I love being a big brother. I love having someone who looks up to me every day and tries to be just like me in any way he can. It really is awesome to have a mini-me that I can teach things to and help learn and grow as time goes by. Zander, I love you, you are the best little brother anybody could ever ask for.”
Idrissa Ballo, a three-year senior from Harlem, New York, talked about the importance of his family in his life. He said, “I have always had a great relationship with my parents and siblings. My parents have always encouraged me to do the things that make me happy but always under one condition: my grades remain strong. They look at me as the hope of the family because I have been blessed to be able to attend private schools, like Suffield, and I really don’t want to let them down. As first-generation college students, my siblings showed me the path I wish to follow to make myself and my family proud.”
Brendan Mastella, a four-year senior from Farmington, Connecticut, shared his personal philosophy: the 57 Precepts of Zote. These somewhat facetious precepts included: “Choose your own fate. Some people say that our fate is chosen for us before we are even born. This is, of course, not true. I choose my own fate simply to spite these people” and “Speak only the truth. When speaking to someone, it is courteous and also efficient to speak truthfully. Beware though that speaking truthfully may make you enemies.”
The senior speaker series is a valuable Suffield Academy tradition and capstone part of the Leadership Program. It is a weekly highlight in our community.