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Founder of TheGenZPost.com Delivers Powerful Graduation Speech in Front of 8,000 People

Gen Z Post Editor-In-Chief, Jett James Pruitt, finishes high school ranked first out of 1163 students and delivers an inspirational speech about the future of politics that has gone viral.

Article Written by Sara Chan


Earlier this week, 1,163 students received their high school diploma from Florida Virtual High School (FVHS) surrounded by 8,000 of their peers, family, and friends. The three-hour ceremony was held at the Addition Financial Arena in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, May 22.

 

During the ceremony, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of TheGenZPost.com, Jett James Pruitt, gave the Senior Class President/Valedictorian speech which was live-streamed on YouTube. Pruitt addressed a number of issues ranging from losing his father to the Fentanyl Crisis and his triumph over an early Autism diagnosis. Most notably, he acknowledged the power Generation Z has to shape the future of the American political landscape.

 

Pruitt is one of several young public figures at Florida Virtual High School (including Class of 2023 tennis superstar Coco Gauff) who found the traditional brick and mortar high school experience too confining when it comes to pursuing goals outside of the classroom.

 

“Many of you in the audience today are world-class athletes, actors, dancers, singers, writers, builders, inventors, entrepreneurs, and volunteers, and others just needed to stay close to home for family, health, or academic reasons,” said Pruitt. “But together, our collective choice to attend virtual high school was a bold one — one that instilled immeasurable maturity, responsibility, and independent learning skills that will stay with us far into adulthood.”

However, it was Pruitt's story of how his father's Fentanyl overdose last year impacted his relationship with politics that held the audience in pure silence:


"Eleven months ago, the national news and my personal life collided. It was the day my passion for politics and statistics nearly engulfed me. It was the day my 44-year-old father overdosed on a substance dominating the headlines today.


Only eight days before my father's death, I penned the final sentence of the U.S. Fentanyl Crisis chapter of my second book. More than 60,000 poignant words, littered with faceless statistics advocating the best policies to solve our nation's worst problems — all eagerly waiting to be released in bookstores worldwide later this summer.


Yet something fundamentally changed inside of me the day my own father disappeared into the realm of national statistics. I no longer wanted to 'just write about' the challenges we face as a country, when other nations have found practical and ethical ways to mitigate the same tragedies that somehow continue to shock us today. I finally wanted to DO something about it."


He went on to encourage his fellow graduates about the importance of being involved in politics:


"And I encourage you to find your issue, and make it a part of your mission — no matter what life path or career you choose — to stand up, take action and advocate for change, in order to move this beautiful country towards a destiny that realizes its fullest potential for all people.

On November 5th, more than 9 million Gen Z voters will be casting their ballots for the very first time. With this in mind, we must ask ourselves the following question: Is there a better path forward? I believe so.

But it will take all of us working together, and actively participating in our precious Democracy to achieve success. We must vote, volunteer, or run for office to affect change," said Pruitt.


"We are the key to changing everything for the better. In fact, it's not hyperbolic to say that the survival of our planet is entirely in our hands. But I know we can do it by vowing now to take our duty of citizenship seriously from this day forward."


Yet it was Pruitt's final words on how he beat the odds of an early Autism diagnosis that truly moved the audience to tears:

Jett James Pruitt

"Many of you in the audience today may be shocked to learn, that at the age of two and a half, I was diagnosed with 'moderate to severe' Autism. After scoring a 37 on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, and remaining non-verbal until the age of four, three doctors told my mother to cancel her college savings plan because they said I would never attend mainstream K-12 schools, let alone college.


But the night I was diagnosed, my mother bought 10 books about Autism, and read everything she could about traditional therapies and holistic diet interventions believed to help young children on the Spectrum — a decision that led to me officially losing my Autism diagnosis at the age of six, and entering mainstream kindergarten with an IEP shortly thereafter.


In fact, it was my mother's dream of today — her dream of watching me graduate from high school — that drove her to the precipice of emotional exhaustion and financial ruin.


This is also why today, ranked first in my class of more than a thousand students, my plans to attend the University of London Institute in Paris to study International Politics starting this fall, is not only a victory for me, it is a victory for every parent with a child on the Spectrum being told today that their child will never speak — and a victory for every Special Education Teacher, ESE case worker, ABA therapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist who gave it their all to provide me with the tools I needed to succeed.


And for this, I will forever be humbled by your dedication... blessed by your compassion... and eternally grateful."

Florida Virtual High School Graduation on May 22, 2024

After graduation, Pruitt plans to attend the prestigious University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP) to receive a B.A. in International Politics. As the smallest member of the Russell Group (the UK's version of the Ivy League) through its affiliation with Queen Mary University, ULIP is a unique English-speaking institution situated in a stunning 18th Century building near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.


Known for its prominence in the field of international climate politics and focus on non-state actor political movements around the world, ULIP offers small classrooms, one-on-one relationships with professors, and unparalleled access to the neighboring British, French, and American embassy facilities, as well as other international government locations throughout the EU.

University of London Institute in Paris

Founded in 1894, famous graduates of this exclusive institution of only 180 undergraduate students studying International Politics or French with International Relations include Queen Camilla of the UK, Fiona Bruce of BBC News, and painter Francoise Gilot.


Most notably, Pruitt is only one of a handful of Americans to have ever been accepted by ULIP, and is believed to be the first Native American to attend the 130-year-old institution starting this September.


While in college, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated political author will work on his third upcoming book and will continue to serve as Editor-In-Chief of the TheGenZPost.com.


To view Jett James Pruitt's full graduation speech on YouTube, please click the following link and fast forward to TIME STAMP 1:25 https://www.youtube.com/live/bQN5y8IGdeY?si=k29WISpmS6AJLgsN



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Sara Chan (she/her) is a contributing writer for TheGenZPost.com and a full-time political consultant based in Los Angeles, CA. She received her B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley and is currently working towards her Master's Degree in Global Studies & International Relations from Northeastern University. She is a proud member of the California Democratic Party and helps local politicians around the country craft bespoke campaign messaging and concise platforms that appeal to voters of various backgrounds.

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