Archive for Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Suggestions for graduates

May 2, 2012

This is a busy and exciting time for many families. It is a time when a dream comes true and a son or daughter graduates from high school, college or profession school. It is a time for joy and for facing the knowledge that new challenges are just around the corner. For many it is a time when life really begins.

I’m sure a lot of parents are sighing with relief since there are no more tuition payments. Sadly, far too many college grads are worrying about paying back loans, if they are lucky enough to find jobs.

Looking back over nearly five-and-a-half decades, I remember how thrilled I was to walk across the stage at Garnett High School and receive my red-bound diploma. Then, I remember leaving the building and a feeling of uncertainty and, yes, fear set in. Suddenly the future was now. I was leaving the familiar and heading into the unknown.

Oh, I know that there are a lot of challenges facing today’s graduates, but there have always been problems. In my day, the Russians were rattling their atomic bombs and we were facing a new challenge from China. It wasn’t long before the Russians sent up the first satellite, Sputnik, which bruised our national ego and provided challenges about the quality of American education. On an individual basis, we faced the prospect of the draft. There was a lot of national turmoil as there has always been. Most of us felt we would be at war and fighting the Russians in the near future. However, we were at peace and it would be nearly a decade before Vietnam became a burning, bitter issue.

Four years later when I graduated from college, I was excited to start a career and to begin making money. Jean and I got married the following week and I had a partner for life. Together, we faced and defeated all of the challenges of life.

Today’s graduates face challenges, too. Right now, the job market is tight and money is even tighter. One of the differences between the 1950s and now is the extremely high cost of education. In those days, you could work your way through college and come out relatively debt free. That certainly isn’t the case today. In the 1950s, you could go to a state school for about $800 per year and a private college for $1,100.

I have a few suggestions for grads of all ages – you have accomplished a milestone in your life. Be proud of what you have done, but remember this is just one step in the journey of life. Unfortunately, there are a few folks who believe that high school is the best time of life. It isn’t – the best time of your life is whatever phase you are in. Even though I’m 75 and hobbled, this is the best time of life. The same was true when I was 25, 35 or whatever age – live and enjoy the day.

It isn’t original with me, but I believe it is true - that the difference between winning and losing is what you do with either. I have seen those who have been tremendously successful only to lose everything because they couldn’t handle winning. I’ve seen others who have faced tremendous losses, knocked down by life, only to come back and be successful. The difference was that they got off the canvas and fought back against huge odds and achieved success. They handled losing by fighting back and never giving up. They were truly winners.

Unfortunately you, like everyone else, will face challenges. Sadly that’s part of life. I know because I’ve faced more than my share.

I would urge you to be optimistic about life. An optimistic person has a lot more fun and, yes, I believe success, too.

Time passes so quickly. I remember a little boy who loved to buidt “Ninja Turtle Hotels” and next week he will graduate from law school. I remember a little boy who went to high school games with me when I was in the newspaper business and now he’s a college graduate and working for an insurance company. I guess what I’m saying is enjoy your children at every stage of their lives. They grow up so quickly.

I have had a great life because of many factors including being in a business that I loved. I actually always enjoyed going to work because the newspaper business was exciting and fun. I hope that all graduates can find a career which gives them that same level of pleasure. Someone said find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Congratulations to all graduates and their families as they pass a milestone of life. My sincerest wish is that you can enjoy your life as much as I have enjoyed mine. Best wishes for a wonderful, successful and happy “everafter.”

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