Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lessons Learned from Commencement

I spent the day in Berea, KY with my family, celebrating oldest son, Aaron's, graduation from Berea College. The forecasted rain held off and the day turned out to be quite pleasant. Other than husband, siblings and me, we were joined by both sets of grandparents (minus my dad), Aaron's girlfriend and her mother and two high school friends.

As I sit here and reflect on this milestone in my son's life, there are several lessons that stand out from today:

1. Don't give up on your dreams. During the Baccalaureate Ceremony, a group of "first graduates" was recognized. These were students who were the first people in their families to graduate from college. (Aaron is a third generation college grad.)
2. Keep the faith. Events of the day were laced with prayer. I know I have been on my knees many times over the past four years for my son. I'm sure Aaron has cried out to God as well during those late nights! Don't abandon your faith in God.
3. Family is important. Many graduates were surrounded not only by parents and grandparents but by numerous extended family members as well. During the course of the day, the President of the college acknowledged several time the contributions the families had made to the graduates' success.
4. Success is a team effort. Though the student does the bulk of the work, the parents, teachers, friends and college advisers all make a contribution to the student's success. The majority of professors/teachers want their students to succeed.
5. Achieving a goal takes hard work. Plain and simple. There are no shortcuts. One cannot sail through college by the seat of one's pants or the skin of one's teeth and expect to make a difference. I know how hard Aaron worked in his classes. Many people - classmates, profs and community members - came up to him today and acknowledged the effort he had put into this college experience.

Being a nontrad is a challenge, but don't give up on your dreams. There is a diploma at the end of this road for you and for me. Stay tuned . . .

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