Class of 2014’s past and future

May. 09, 2014 @ 03:04 PM

Our local colleges are hosting commencement ceremonies this weekend, launching newly minted alumni on various career and academic paths.

We suspect there will be much talk addressing you, the graduating Class of 2014, about what the future holds for your bright minds, but let’s pause for a moment and take a look back.
Each of you receiving a degree this weekend is standing on the shoulders of a family member, teacher or mentor.
In short, graduates, none of you made this journey on your own. The contributions of those who guided you to this day are myriad. It could be a parent or grandparent who read to you and encouraged you to be curious from early childhood. It might be a parent who provided support to ensure you could afford tuition. Perhaps it was a teacher who saw your potential and pushed you to chase a dream that you had always considered out of reach. Or it could have been a mentor who helped you develop a stronger belief in yourself.
We urge those of you who will graduate this weekend from N.C. Central University, UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University to pause for a moment and look back to determine who the people are that played pivotal roles in this achievement. This is a prime opportunity to reach out and say a word of thanks. Take a moment in the next few weeks to send a note letting the people who got you here know the role they played and how much you appreciate them for it. That will be priceless to them. Knowing that you had a direct, positive affect on the course of someone’s life is the reward of teaching and parenting. So graduates, pay it back a little.
Now let’s talk about how you also can pay it forward. Consider those whose shoulders you stand on, and look for opportunities for others to stand on yours. It’s your time to look for ways to improve this world and make strides in your chosen field. It’s also a time in which you can help others pursue educational goals through scholarship fund contributions, volunteer work and mentoring. Your efforts might help someone go to college, get a GED or learn to read. You might make a difference in how a person views his or her possibilities.
This is a milestone you are passing this weekend, graduates, and your futures hold such promise and hope. We’re counting on you to fulfill both, for yourself and for others.