25 May 2010

Graduation Optimism

Today, just a few thoughts for those graduating from high school (and those who have, and those who will).

My friends:

This is only the beginning.
Graduating from high school and starting college is an opportunity that will only happen once in your life. That doesn't mean you have just one chance to get it right. It means this is an experience and an environment unlike any other, so use it! Where else are so many bright and intelligent and curious minds gathered all in one place? College is a place where you can really make a difference, and all you have to do is try. With all those people in one place, you are bound to find someone with something in common.

This is only the beginning.
It's a cliché to say that you make your closest and best friends in college, but that doesn't mean your first friend is going to be the best and closest. In such a large community, you can meet a new person every day. Ten new people every day! So, do it. Colleges are unique in this respect as well -- very few other places can claim the diversity of ideas, races, causes and beliefs as a college campus. Befriend the girl sitting next to you in your Chemistry 101, or the guy in your group in Anthropology 221. You never know where that friendship could lead.

This is only the beginning.
Though it’s a little frightening, just consider it: the friendships and connections you make here could last for the rest of your life. What if the guy in Anthropology is your future husband or the girl in Chemistry your first boss? In that case, doesn't it make sense to be yourself and be truly honest with the people you meet? In high school people may act differently to fit in, or refrain from sharing what they really think to avoid arguments. But college doesn't do that. College is an arena where you can be exactly the person you have always been on the inside and your beliefs (while they may spark discussion) are always welcome.

This is only the beginning.
Your beliefs should be a big part of your experiences after graduation. Though they say that many people lose their faith in college, the number of people who decide to follow the plans God has for them is impressive. In college and really, anywhere you go after high school, you have a choice to make about your impact. That choice comes down to "Do I say yes, and change the world with God?" or "Do I say no, and let my life go on as it is?" College is a chance to shake things up in your life and in the world. When it comes down to it, it’s the only choice that really matters. What opportunity are you going to take?

This is it.
This is your time.
This is only the beginning.

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