Graduating to New Dreams

Graduating to New Dreams

It’s that time of year when graduation season is in full bloom, with some ceremonies still to come. Having attended a commencement in late May in New York, I share the optimism that so often bursts forth amid the pomp and circumstance.

Not all senior citizens have the same kind of enthusiasm, especially those who complain that “these kids today just aren’t like we were.”

I guess that comes with advancing years and donning rose-colored glasses when it comes to the past. Too many of us remember only the good and none of the bad or the pain and mistakes that came with growing up.

Reasons for Optimism

Graduating to New Dreams blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured: A graduate cap and a diploma on a white fabric backdrop.There are several reasons I feel this way, starting with the fact that these ceremonies reinforce that America really is a land of opportunity.

As proof, I cite the audience at our great-nephew’s graduation from Vaughn College at the Westchester County Center in White Plains:

* The featured student speaker was a native of Honduras.

* In a couple corners of the arena, one in the balcony and the other on the floor, excited families were waving small red flags with a black diagonal band across it. I quickly researched the symbol and discovered it was the flag for Trinidad and Tobago. To say those folks were excited would be a vast understatement.

* The keynote speaker was an executive with United Parcel Service: Capt. Houston Mills, a Black Marine veteran who gave one of the best commencement talks I’ve ever heard. He emphasized the “four P’s” of passion, perseverance, practice and purpose.

In short, this graduation put to rest the notion that everyone is captive to a destiny determined by race, ethnic background or supposed privilege that gives some people unfair advantages. Not true where people are free.

Brave New World

It wasn’t just the diversity on display that day that I found so encouraging. It’s the brave new world into which our great-nephew will be graduating. He has a degree in robotics, a field that would leave me quickly bewildered.

Pictured: A robotic arm.While his interviews aren’t complete, he has talked with a couple major companies and may end up in one of three metropolitan areas in the Northeast, South or Midwest. We’re hoping he winds up in the latter and can stop in for a visit enroute to his destination.

The excitement of setting out for a new frontier is part of one’s youth, when opportunities stretch out before you and dreams are still alive.

I look forward to seeing where he lands and what future key decisions follow as our extended family grows wider.

I also smile as I think back to his parents’ wedding, the last time I donned a tuxedo (and let it be known that for future occasions I was content to be a guest instead of having a role in the wedding party).

Spoiling for Nothing

One of the gripes I often hear aimed at young people is they are “spoiled.” One time, when a friend grumbled about that, I thought, “Well, don’t blame the kids. They didn’t do it to themselves.”

As the most affluent nation in history, I’d say we are all spoiled. We gripe about slow internet service when millions in the world would be overjoyed to just have internet. About how expensive cars are when many must walk everywhere. About the high cost of food when most of us could stand to lose a few pounds.

So let’s send a cheer up for the young people graduating now who will one day be running things. If we’re honest, we will admit they can’t do any worse than we did.

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