Valedictorian gives powerful speech hours after dad's funeral

A North Texas high school valedictorian touched the hearts of many when he delivered a moving graduation speech just hours after burying his father.

Alem Hadzic graduated at the top of his class from Early College High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District.

His father, Miralem, passed away from cancer a few days before graduation. 

The funeral was held just hours before he gave his speech. His shoes were still muddy from the burial as he addressed the audience.

"I can’t stand up here and pretend I want to be doing this speech right now. But I can’t throw something away he worked so hard for me to achieve. That’s why I am going to go to college and I am going to spend every hour of every day working as hard as I can to achieve all my goals. Because that’s what he wanted and I’m going to do it for him," he said.

Hadzic joined FOX 4’s Good Day and said writing the speech and speaking from his heart helped him deal with the mix of emotions he was experiencing.

"I went to the funeral and I got back to school and had to go give my speech," he said. "I was scared because I really didn’t know. I went to my dad’s funeral right before. I couldn’t just talk about what I wrote because so much more had happened since then. And so, I got on stage. I started reading the script and when I got to the part about my dad, I couldn’t just read off a script anymore. I had to talk about my experience, and I had to talk from the heart."

Hadzic's raw and powerful words drew gasps from the audience. He had only told a few of his closest friends about his father’s death. Most people did not know what he was going through.

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Alem Hadzic and his father, Miralem

"I got up there. I said my speech. I looked in the audience and I didn’t expect to see so many people crying," he said. 

He received an outpouring of support after the ceremony.

"I didn’t know any of them but they came up to me. They made me feel better. They wanted to take pictures with me. They told me how strong I was and it made me feel so much better. It made me feel so good on such a dark day. It was really what I needed," he said.

Hadzic hopes his speech was a good reminder for everyone to hold their loved ones close.

Next fall, he will head to the University of Texas at Austin to study chemical engineering.