Guyanese-born scholar honors cancer survivor mom

Guyanese born Daniel Hermonstine.
Guyanese born Daniel Hermonstine.

Seventeen-year-old Guyanese born Daniel Hermonstine a recent valedictorian graduate of D. M. Therrell High School APS Atlanta Georgia, became a social media star after his phenomenal commencement speech to the class of 2022, chronicling his mother, a breast cancer survivor went viral.

The self-assured young man, who served as executive ambassador and beta club president, and obtained an academic full ride scholarship to study Public Policy/International Relations Policy, at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

opened his speech, by saying. “First, I would like to give glory and honor to the man above, with whom I am nothing without him.”

“I am Daniel Hermonstine, the proud valedictorian for the class of 2022. I am honored to have earned the privilege of delivering an address to my fellow classmates and to all of you, my fellow Panthers.

“Helen Keller once said although the world is full of suffering it is also full of the overcoming of it. Currently, I find no truer words exist for despite it all, class of 2022, here we are.

“I’m originally from a small 83000 square-mile country, located in the North Eastern part of South America called Guyana. It is the place where I spent the first eleven years of my life, growing, learning, and developing into the young man, standing before you.”

“The scholar standing before you are extremely different from the one who migrated to America almost six years ago.”

His speech, at times witty, other times, touching, Hermonstine, who also served as the vice chair of the Superintendent Advisory Council, spoke of taking his education seriously as he grew over the six years, developing, and reminded his peers, as they go into the world to find vision and purpose, as they evolve, they must reimage their purpose.

He told the graduating class, that one of the reasons he came to America was because of the failing health of his mother, Lady Dianne Hermonstine. “If you know her, she is my biggest supporter and when need be, fighter. She was diagnosed with a severe level of breast cancer, and the doctors in my country incapable of providing appropriate medical treatments, was giving my family and I, a death preparation date.”

“I will never forget that day she was given that dreadful news. Her situation broke me. Over the last four years while they were many good days, God knows, there were also bad ones. I can recall numerous times that my High School days, were bad and I find myself not wanting to leave home and go to school, because I wasn’t sure she’ll be there when I got back.”

Hermonstine, who attended the prestigious Nations School in Guyana, before migrating spoke passionately of his determination, and shared that the best part of his last school year was being a part of the first student-led Mayoral candidate forum, that he called unique, and extraordinary. But through all this he kept his phone on because he anticipated receiving dreadful news.

He said under his proud walk and confident mentality, his last four years have not been easy, adding that he had been to the precipice of trauma and back.

During his inspiring address, the brilliant young man admitted that he was sinking in his first semester in High School, until he renewed his purpose, adding that it was February 2019, when he had an extensive, emotional conversation with his mother, who told him she was fighting to live.

She told him. “Every day I get up looking for something to keep me going, looking for a purpose.” All she wanted to do was to live long enough to see him, and his siblings succeed. “In that moment as it hurt me, it drove me. And it was in that conversation, I thought to myself, “I’m going to make my success a part of her purpose.”

“A fire lit under me, one that still burns under me and will continue to burn as I go off into the world. A fire that drives me to achieve as much as possible, while my mother is living. A renewed purpose that pushes me, to allow her to witness my success.”

Hermonstine thanked his teachers, and principal whom he called the best in Atlanta, before again acknowledging his mother Lady Dianne Hermonstine, whom despite all she had endured, she overcame, and despite the battles she had to fight, she always had the time to fight for him, he said, calling her his biggest supporter. “I want to say thank you.”

“Mommy, it is only through faith and through God, that “you can sit up there (in the audience) breathing, five years after that death date, as the proud mother of the valedictorian for the APS, class of 2022,” said Hermonstine who was a student ambassador.

During an Atlanta Public School 2021 – Today’s Journey with APS a compelling, comprehensive look back at the state of the district, Hermonstine in a Q&A video, said he enjoyed his scientific research at Georgia Tech, as a Project Engages scholar, and is honored to be one of only 13 students in America to be a part of that program.

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