By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The invitations have been sent out, the special outfits bought and carefully stored in the closet. Relatives and friends have made their travel plans and party supplies have been acquired. It is most definitely a time to celebrate because you, graduate, have worked hard to get to this moment.
For some of you, it’s been a 12 year journey from learning the ABCs of the alphabet to the ABCs of the Pythagorean Theorem. For others, the coming ceremonies represent the culmination of another four years, or six (or more) of dedication pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.
In either case, what you have accomplished is no small feat, so congratulations! And though I realize you’re about to hear a lot of inspiring speeches offering more congratulations, witty anecdotes, and educational clichés during your commencement ceremonies, I can’t help but offer my own small words of advice, too.
I can distinctly remember the bittersweet melancholy I felt at both my high school and college graduations. Change, though it can be new and exciting, can also be a scary thing and graduation is a very public recognition that something is changing, that something — a phase of education and of life —has ended.
During my graduation ceremonies I found myself reminiscing about the friendships I’d made along the way and how those relationships would be different moving forward as we scattered, quite literally, to all the corners of the globe. I was ecstatic to be graduating, but a little sad, too.
It’s not something lots of people talk about, so I figured I should. If you find yourself feeling a little lost, don’t worry, it’s ok. That’s normal. The good thing is, the relationships you have forged in school aren’t quite so fragile. The even better thing is that now you’ll also have the good fortune of meeting new people and including them in your ever-expanding world. Trust me, you won’t run out of space in your brain or your heart for new friends.
And speaking of an ever-expanding world, here is the part where I will get a little cliché. Whether your educational career is coming to its completion, or you’re simply pausing a moment to reflect before going to college, learning isn’t something you ever completely stop doing. Nor is it something that happens strictly in a classroom setting. Some of the most powerful lessons you’ll ever learn will happen not while you’re sitting at a desk, but while you’re out exploring your newfound independence.
Though your academic career may be done, strive to remain a lifelong learner. Stoke that curiosity. Have those philosophical coffee shop conversations. Go to new places. Read new books. Pick up new hobbies. It keeps you young.
This isn’t the end of your education, it’s just the beginning.
Again, congratulations! And as always, be sure to visit us online at www.portisabelsouthpadre.com.
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