Isabelle Cox-Garleanu ’26 Speaks at Eighth Grade Celebration

Isabelle Cox-Garleanu ’26 shared these remarks with her class at the Eighth Grade Celebration in May 2022.

Hello, Class of 2026, parents, and staff.

I want to be an engineer. Does that mean I want to develop websites? Familiarize myself with in-depth knowledge of internet protocols? Or does that mean I want to design rockets? Electric cars? Bridges? Skyscrapers? Robots, from the nano to the mega? Why not the organization of society, small and large? Or maybe I could be a writer, as in, “engineer of the soul?”

My name is Isabelle Cox-Garleanu, and I started middle school in sixth grade in Berkeley, California. On the first day, my advisor seated us in a circle, and he asked us to share our dream careers.

I told the ten kids in my advisory with pride that I wanted to be an engineer.

“What type of engineer?” my advisor asked.

“Well, I’m kind of hoping to figure that out in middle school.”

My advisor’s mouth opened, he kind of paused, and then he said, “You know, I think you will figure that out much later in life.”

“Then why am I going to middle school?”

I have been pondering that question for three years now. And today, as I stand here, I have an answer.

Middle school does have a purpose. I’d like to think that every one of us entered junior high as a new moon. Moons are a symbol of many things, including the passage of time and eternity. We started off as children with not a lot to show like the new moon, but brimming with great potential and promise.

The first stage of the moon is the waxing crescent. As ten-year-olds, our moons were kind of lit; we started to get the hang of it all—we learned some things, we made friends, but oh boy, sometimes, we REALLY messed up. There were sixth-grade romances, morning detentions, times we were caught playing Wordle and teachers got angry. We gossiped in bathrooms and roasted each other; these are a few of my least favorite things.

The second stage is the first quarter of our moons, where we didn’t stop messing up, but we took healthy risks. Our second stage overflowed with the desire to make self-discoveries. I didn’t learn how to become an engineer or what type of engineer I want to become, and middle school might be the worst point to “declare” myself. The world is so big and so varied. It is great to have a goal, a star to follow, but equally important that we keep an open mind and broaden our horizons.

Over time, our moons slid into the third stage, the waxing gibbous. We became adolescents together, and we understood the significance of being in a community, which is truly beautiful. In elementary school, teachers told us to be good citizens, but we had no clue what that really meant. It means to look out for one another and promote a sense of belonging and goodwill. As young adults in middle school—cheering our hearts out at football games, making memory pages on yearbooks, volunteering at the Turkey Train, the Homecoming Fun Run, and the International Expo, and playing Jeopardy during Class Meetings and student council—did not only make us happy, we were completing that duty.

And today is our day to shine as number FOUR: full moons. Today, we will promise to keep learning more about ourselves so that one day, whatever we choose to do in life, we will pursue it with great passion and joy. That is what it means to have your dream come true: to love wholeheartedly what you do and yearn to have more of it through the passing of time for all eternity, like the moon cycle.

Tonight, let’s wrap our arms around each other, laugh, smile, take pictures, cry, and let’s be emotional! In FOUR years, guys, we are going to stand tall and proud with a high school diploma, ready to adventure into adulthood, and remember where it all started. In my case, telling my advisor that I want to become an engineer.