Life Lessons for the Graduate

From the end of May throughout the month of June, primary schools, high schools,
colleges, and trade schools are holding graduation exercises. Yesterday, I went to a kindergarten
graduation and watched as the students – with the helping hand of their teacher – moved the
tassels on their mortar boards from right to left. Adoring parents were flashing cameras and the
graduates where flashing smiles. Congratulations to all!
 
My nephew, Kyle, walked the aisle last weekend in Normal, Illinois as he was awarded
his Doctoral Degree. My sister, relating the event to me, said that ten men and woman who had
earned their doctorates entered the auditorium at the front of a 500-person processional of
graduates who were receiving various-level degrees from the school of education. Reportedly,
the sight was awe-inspiring. Kyle had worked in school administration by day while studying in
summer and night school for over a decade to earn his advanced degree. He graduated with
honors. Congratulations, Kyle.
 
A young lady, who grew up in our church, just completed her Bachelor’s Degree at
Greenville College and has been granted admittance into the medical school that she had chosen.
She had high honors conferred upon her and was celebrated by the school for her achievements.
Family and friends alike are commemorating her accomplishments by attending receptions,
giving gifts, and offering other expressions of praise. Congratulations, Alicia!
Tonight I will attend commencement exercises for the seniors who are graduating from
the academy supported by our church. As they complete twelve years of primary and secondary
education, they will receive acclamations and adulations. Those who have encouraged
and supported each student throughout the journey will be present for the celebration.
Congratulations, Class of 2012.
 
All the hard work and personal discipline that goes into earning a degree can, on the one
hand, prepare the graduate for life and, on the other hand, cause the graduate to miss the future
rewards that life has to offer. What ‘I’ can attain; what ‘I’ can accomplish; how ‘I’ can be
rewarded: these self-focused goals so vital to achieve graduation can train a student that success
in life can be attained when the world is only about ‘me.’
 
I once ready a story about a farmer who grew award-winning corn for which he earned
first place each year at the state far. When interviewed by the local newspaper, the farmer
reported that part of the secret to his success was sharing his seed corn with his neighbors. The
reporter questioned his wisdom, since his goal was to win the competition for the best corn.
The farmer, puzzled by the lack of understanding demonstrated by the reporter,
proceeded to expound how the wind picked up the pollen from the ripening corn and blew it
from field to field. He explained that if his neighbors grew inferior corn, cross-pollination would
steadily degrade the quality of his own corn. He was very much aware that his future success
was intrinsically tied to the success of others.
 
What a great lesson for graduates to learn. As these highly esteemed honorees move
from the schoolroom to the classroom of life, many more commendations are yet to be awarded
and many more tributes are yet to be conferred. And, to guarantee future rewards, may they
exercise the knowledge gained from their field of study and the wisdom granted from the
Famous Farmer: “It is possible to give away and become richer! It is possible to hold on too
tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters
himself.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
 
Congratulations, Graduates!

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~Dr. Patti Amsden