Judge Judy Offers Powerful, Emotional Commencement Speech to Shiprock High School Graduates

Pam WrightLife

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Judge Judy Sheindlin shed her usual harsh, no-nonsense persona fans of her courtroom reality show are accustomed to in order to offer words of encouragement to graduating seniors at Shiprock High School in New Mexico.

In a 20 minute commencement speech, Judge Judy offered some personal advice on how to succeed.

"Number one -- and I want you to emblaze this on your brain -- you only have one chance to make a first impression," Judge Judy told the graduating students.

Judge Judy continued to share words of wisdom on the importance of hard work.

"A combination of tenacity and luck brought me here today," Judge Judy said. "I was an unremarkable student with passable looks and a direct personality. Nothing in my early childhood suggested to anyone -- except maybe my father -- that one day I would be standing here and be known simply as Judge Judy."

The judge agreed to speak at the high school as part of a Facebook contest sponsored by Judge Judy. Shiprock senior Alexus Uentille, 18, won the contest after submitting an essay that prompted the judge to travel to New Mexico from her home in Connecticut.

"Quite frankly I was hoping that we would find some school closer and more geographically suitable to where I live," Judge Judy told ET. "But then I started to go through the letters, and the letter from Alexus was compelling. She said so many movies are made here because they use that wonderful shiprock. So many people come and use the land, but so few of the people that come -- the celebrities that come -- stayed and spoke to the kids about how to realize their dreams and be successful."

Uentille's speech highlighted many of the difficulties facing the young men and women of the school.

"It's time that we as Navajo youth get the encouragement that we deserve," said Uentille in her speech.

Judge Judy ended her speech with words the 117 graduates can live by.

"Never let anyone or anything define your value or limit your dream," Judge Judy said. “There are only [two] things guaranteed in your life, your entrance and your exit. In between is the journey and my wish for all of you is that your journey be a walk in beauty. May you all walk in beauty. Congratulations!”

Pam Wright