Eleanor Yousif ~Senior Story/Valedictorian Address

My name is Eleanor Yousif and I know that communities often gather their hopes and wishes together in prayer, the third Dominican essential. I have discovered that it does not have to be guided by a higher being or power. In fact, as we begin to discuss the nature of prayer, I encourage you to look at prayer with a broader perspective. That is, think of prayer as a meaningful action that can inform one´s future. Trinity taught us that prayer is an act that connects many of us from various spiritual, religious, and secular backgrounds in ways we might overlook. Prayer can involve the contemplation and analysis of one’s thoughts and actions in a spiritual manner. The time spent developing self-awareness keeps us in touch with our inner beings and helps us better understand our motivations in life. This meaningful engagement with our thoughts leads to a better understanding of ourselves and our peers as it forces us to take a moment to absorb and observe our surroundings before acting on issues important to us. While religious individuals reflect and pray with the guidance of God, atheists still contemplate and believe, finding meaning in diverse ways.

As a Muslim in a Catholic school, I have learned the importance and value of prayer, an ancient and timeless practice. I have found a great sense of belonging to a community that is seemingly so different from my personal cultural and religious beliefs. While I am a rather secular Muslim, the Catholic practices of Trinity High School have all been incredibly foreign to me since the start of high school. However, I have found that although the beliefs and doctrines of the Catholic religion may be different than my own beliefs, my sisters and I who do not identify with this religion can still join the Christian women of Trinity High School in prayer. As a community, we can all gather in the auditorium and contemplate and reflect in our own way with the support of our sisterhood around us. At a glance, prayer may seem like a religious practice that has the potential to divide a diverse student body like ours, but the awareness and thought-provoking questions prayer brings out in us are not only complex but encourage us to reflect before making decisions, guiding us on future journeys we may not anticipate.

Eleanor Yousif, Alcuin Montessori, Oak Park
Barnard College, New York City