Ashley Kunutus’ Leadership Seminar Speech

About 7 years ago, I came to this school with my mother for an interview with the principal, Mrs Padayachee. The interview was to establish if I was ready for school. The interview did not take place as I was on my mother’s back, fast asleep.

Mrs Padayachee thought that this was a sign of how I would be throughout my schooling career. Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Ashley Kunutu and I am the head girl of Melpark Primary School.

My teachers will all agree that I have been wide awake since that day and ready to take up any challenge and opportunity. I have taken part in athletics, netball, chess, poetry recitals and the speech evening every year. I have tried my best and managed to retain first position in my class for the last 6 years.

I am inspired by very strong women in my life, at school and at home. All my female teachers give me strength and motivate me to always do my best. My mom, who is a domestic worker, has done everything she can, and a little bit more to give me a happy and full life. Through me she lives out her own dreams of success. She is my role model and I can only hope that one day when I am a mother, I will be able to give my children the love and support that I have received as a child.

During my time as a head girl, I have looked at ways to make my mark and leave behind a legacy. My two deputies and I arranged a disco and a themed civvies day to raise funds for the school on a day that has a special meaning in all our lives: Women’s Day. Not only did I want to do something tangible for my school but my aim was to always be a role model for the other children at the school. I wanted them to see through me that if you work hard, and don’t give up, anything is possible.

I am always willing to try new things, like when my school acquired new high jump equipment. I thought to myself “Hey. I have long legs, I should try that!” It was a great experience and I achieved some success. I learnt from this, that you have to be ready to try new things. If you are stuck in your ways, how can you move forward? I always want to be a pioneer for the future, that is why I take every opportunity that comes my way.
On the last day of the term we hosted a Heritage Day concert. I found myself on stage, performing a variety of items ranging from choir, dancing, poetry and a totem. Being on stage for me is a vehicle to express my love for life, beauty and creation. I hope my participation was an inspiration to all the other children in the audience who shy away from the stage, to pluck up courage and to take a stand and show off their talent. Through our performances we managed to bring pride to our school as the reports received were full of praise for the quality of instruction at Melpark, and admiration of the talent of the children.

I plan to be a big influence not just in my community, or my city but in my country and even in the world. My journey started as a sleeping child, who awoke to achieve and continues next year. I have been given a great opportunity to become an influential leader by being accepted into a high school founded by a very inspirational woman.

Mrs Barker walked into the hall one day with a piece of paper. She gave it to Mrs Padayachee. My principal couldn’t even speak. She called me over with tears in her eyes. I knew as soon as I got close that this was the most important letter of my life… It was my acceptance letter into the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

The Academy will help me grow into a woman who can take life’s challenges head on. It will be the place that changes not only my life, but my family’s lives too. I hope to influence younger pupils in this school to work hard and to achieve, just as I have. A ripple is a circle and a circle has no end. Just like those ripples, opportunities in life are endless.

3 replies
  1. Alinos Ruzvidzo
    Alinos Ruzvidzo says:

    You are our pride Ashley. Continue shining and raising Melpark flag. You are an inspiration and a testimony to others that through hard work and a clear vision, nothing is impossible. Your future is blessed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Marie' Claxton
    Marie' Claxton says:

    What a remarkable young lady ! She makes one proud to be a South African. A big pat on the back to the teachers at Melpark School for producing a student of such a high caliber. I am sure we will hear much more about Ashley her journey is clearly just beginning.

  3. Ntsika Shika
    Ntsika Shika says:

    wow I’m very impressed now and ko gae u r speech should be an insertion to many young girls out there m very proud of u baby girl. I hope that the journey that u have started from that sleeping child u will grow into something much bigger like u said u want to change your families lives!! WELL DONE nAna mwaaaahs

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