The Finish Line
The Finish Line
Graduation season has come to a close. The moments of celebrating the completion of a time at a school or college with family and friends are now part of memories. Suddenly one realizes that the finish line is behind them. The long awaited, long sought goal is no more. For some, attention immediately turns to the next race, whether it be the next level of education or a job that has been waiting for them. For others, it is a bit disconcerting. The next step is not readily apparent. Everyone seems to have some idea what they should do. For high school graduates, it may be the first time that they get to choose their path.
Ideally a graduation speaker should provide the graduate with some guidance. At Southeast New Mexico College,
our graduation ceremony was the final New Mexico State University-Carlsbad graduation and the first for SENMC. We were very fortunate to have Dr. Ken Van Winkle, NMSU Associate Vice Chancellor for External Relations, to provide remarks to both of our graduating classes. I saw no need for competing speeches at our commencement, but I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts that apply to all the graduates from our area, both recent and from days past.
Colleges often refer to their graduation ceremony as a “commencement.” This is a reminder that “graduate” and “degree” both have their origins in the Latin word “gradus,” which refers to a rank or step. Graduation is not a finish line, but the beginning of what comes next. You—and only you—will choose what path to take. Fortunately, there is advice that can apply to all your potential journeys.
First, never stop growing and learning. You are never too old to become all that you can be. Yes, the years behind you limit your choices to an extent, but your experiences can illuminate possibilities that you could not see in your younger years. Ask questions, gain from those who have taken the path ahead of you, and commit yourself to learning everything you can.
Second, only connect. This maxim comes to us from the Victorian-era setting of Howards End by E.M. Forster and it remains true today. It is easy to get comfortable with getting to know only a few people and to treat others as mere actors in a story of your own choosing. Having a world filled only with immediate family and close neighbors was common when most people never journeyed far from their place of birth, but now that we have the means to go anywhere and talk with virtually anyone—worldwide—many still chose to limit their interactions to those who think much like they do. We must push ourselves out of our comfort zone and connect with others who are different from us. Our strength lies in our collective abilities. The more connections we have, the stronger we all are.
Finally, leave everything better than you found it. Everywhere you go, don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Find a way to grow—learn, work together with others whose talents are quite different from your own, and make the world a better place.
You may find some of these ideas to be cliché, but keep in mind that a cliché comes to be through overuse. While they may not be original, they are tried and true. I challenge you to do better and take them to the next level. May you leave these thoughts better than you found them as well.
Contact Kevin Beardmore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 575.234.9211.