Los Angeles Times

Robin Abcarian: Good luck, graduates. As you enter college, dream big, have fun, and don't be afraid to talk about mental illness

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Hakeem Howard, a senior at Quince Orchard High School in suburban Maryland, was in his first-period class one morning listening to announcements when he heard that the school was looking for graduation speakers and valedictorians.

Grade-wise, he told me, he definitely wasn't a valedictorian. But, he said: "I knew I had something great to talk about. I felt like I could take something that happened to me and talk about it in a way that would touch others."

Administrators agreed, and on graduation day, Hakeem took a seat onstage with school officials, valedictorians and other notables.

The ceremony took place in Washington, D.C., at the

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