TX high school valedictorian delivers moving speech hours after burying his dad: ‘I have one more thing…’

A high school valedictorian moved the audience to tears when he revealed a months-long secret about the fate of his father and the reason his shoes were muddy.

“I have one more thing to say, I want to see if I can get through this.”

Thursday at Early College High School in Farmers Branch, Texas, north of Dallas, 18-year-old Alem Hadzic joined his classmates in celebrating their collective milestone. He also shared the very personal experience of his father’s death the day before, and his burial that same morning.

After going through his prepared remarks, the valedictorian announced to the crowd, “I have one more thing to say, I want to see if I can get through this.”

“My father died yesterday, May 15, 2024,” Hadzic explained as gasps were heard throughout the audience, “and I attended his funeral today right before graduation,”

“That’s why my shoes are muddy. That’s why my arms are shaking because I had to carry him into his grave and bury him,” continued the emotional testimony.

According to a statement from Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, “Hadzic chose to keep this a secret from his peers, not wanting anyone to treat him differently because of it.”

In an interview with Fox 4, the young man explained that the day that his father, Miralem Hadzic, had succumbed to the pancreatic cancer he had been diagnosed with five months earlier, he attended school, drafted his speech and only told his closest friends what it was he was going through.

“I was scared because I really didn’t know. I went to my dad’s funeral just before…I couldn’t just talk about what I wrote because so much more had happened since then, right?” explained Hadzic. “And so, I got on stage, I started reading the script and when I got to the part about my dad, I couldn’t just read off a script anymore. I had to talk about my experience, and I had to talk from the heart.”

“I got up there. I said my speech. I looked in the audience and I didn’t expect to see so many people crying,” he told Fox 4’s Good Day.

During his speech, the valedictorian praised his father, an immigrant from Bosnia, and expressed, “I can’t stand up here and pretend I want to be doing this speech right now. But I can’t throw something away he worked so hard for me to achieve. And that’s why I am going to go to college and I am going to spend every hour of every day working as hard as I can to achieve all my goals.”

“Because that’s what he wanted and I’m going to do it for him,” Hadzic added of his goals to pursue a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

When asked about the reception from attendees, the young man detailed an outpouring of kindness and support, even from people he had never met before, “I didn’t know any of them but they came up to me. They made me feel better. They wanted to take pictures with me. They told me how strong I was and it made me feel so much better. It made me feel just so good on such a dark day. It was really what I needed.”

Kevin Haggerty


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