Applause erupted as Congresswoman Jackie Speier took the podium in Aragon’s Memorial Theater on Tuesday, August 31. Speier came to Aragon to talk to the senior class about overcoming challenges and her own life experiences.
Speier currently represents California’s 12th District, which includes parts of South San Francisco and San Mateo.
The speech began with Speier giving a background on her life’s winding road. She told students how she was a “three-time loser,” having lost three attempts at official positions in the past. However, she followed up by stating how “success is never final, and failure is never fatal.”
After the slightly negative background, Speier’s speech developed a positive, motivational tone. She said that, despite her failures, her belief that it is necessary to take calculated risks to succeed won her an election for the Board of Supervisors. Despite being shot multiple times and left for dead in the infamous Jonestown incident, falling into near bankruptcy after the loss of her husband, she still continued to push her political career forward.
She asked the students present, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
Speier listed the problems she believes will be faced in the near future, including the country’s outstanding debt to China and the high unemployment rate. She also claimed that in her youth, “there was still [a] great idealism. There was [none of the] bias that is so prevalent [nowadays] on TV and radio stations.”
Speier believes that this problem of such a polarized media can only be addressed by the activism on the students’ parts. She says, “If young people push back against the trash they see on TV, [it will] change.
Students appear to have been very receptive and appreciative towards the speech. “I like how she brought up her life story and connected it to a lot of themes. She seemed very unbiased in my opinion,” says senior Michael Miyahira.
Some concern arose about whether or not Speier’s final remarks regarding Wall Street and the current political atmosphere were too political.
Principal Patricia Kurtz says that the stated purpose for Speier’s visit was to tell the seniors about her opportunities. Kurtz says, “I’m not really sure if she stepped over the line.” However, Kurtz adds that the Congresswoman never mentioned the upcoming elections or her own political party in her opinionated remarks.
Aragon High School is considered an open forum school, where political remarks are allowed, but both sides of an issue must be presented. It is possible that Speier’s opponents will request an audience from Aragon before the November elections.