Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Graduation advice: keep life advisors

When attending a high school or college graduation, you tend to hear some encouraging messages. Some are inspiring and it stays with you while others are easily forgotten because they sound like typical graduation speeches.

I thought it would be fun to play a fitness game with standard speeches – every time the speakers say “graduates,” you do 10 push-ups, every time they say “we did” or “we made it,” do 10 jumping jacks and every time they talk about the “next chapter of our lives” or about the “next era,” do 10 squats. You would get quite a workout at some of the graduations I have reported on, but not all graduations are that typical.

Some graduations even inspired me as the journalist and I hoped the graduates gained a positive impact from the message their classmates or administrators shared that day. I could relate to radio personality Kathy Romano, a 2000 West Chester University graduate speaking at my alma mater, about having an encouraging mentor in the newsroom. Romano, who is the traffic reporter and a newscaster at WMMR-FM, said she wanted to work behind the scenes in the industry but was encouraged to work on-air.

“Surround yourself with life advisors and board of directors. Find those people that believe in you and keep them in your life forever,” Romano said. “Tap in to them when you need help, get their perspective and use that as a guide for your professional life. They’re not paid. They do this out of the goodness of their hearts because they see promise in you.”

Having that support system established can help people get through work-related and personal issues. When you face hardships, you learn through difficult situations how to rise above it.

Staff photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - Daily Local News
Downingtown school board member David Kring hugs a relative before handing her diploma to her at the Downingtown STEM Academy graduation. 

“We have faced worse before and will likely face worse in the future,” Downingtown East graduate speaker Angela Cai said. “We cannot become arrogant because of past accomplishments, but we should definitely not be disheartened because of future conflict.” 

Staff photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - Daily Local News
Downingtown STEM Academy graduates celebrate by throwing their caps into the air during the graduation ceremony. 

Failure and trying again until becoming successful are common topics in graduation speeches. We can learn from our struggles if we work to overcome them rather than give up.

“Failure is your teacher, not a judge,” said Downingtown graduate speaker Baylen Edwards-Miller.

I saw parents exchange glances when Downingtown East teacher Joesph Kamor told the students, “You will fail.” It sounded harsh, but he gained their attention as he explained that they will not always be successful at first or even the first few times, and to not lose hope as they continue to try, learn from their mistakes and overcome failures to reach a successful outcome.

“We are all human, capable of greatness and vulnerable to failure,” Kamor said.

That applies to the fire service as we learn to adapt and think about plan B and beyond because our initial attempts may not be the best choice or solution.

“Don’t confuse struggling with failure,” Downingtown graduate speaker Anika Curtis said.

Failure in the fire service could also be seen as an injury or loss of a member of the public or a fellow firefighter. When you sign up for the fire service, acknowledge you are sacrificing your time as a volunteer and you should acknowledge what else you could potentially sacrifice.

“Bad things will happen to you in life,” Downingtown East teacher Bill Williamson said. “Don’t let them stop you from doing the special things that each one of you was created to do. Never stop using your gifts even when bad things happen to you.”

He encouraged people to continue participating in organizations, giving your best efforts to “make the group better because it’s not about you.” The fire service has a history of accomplishments and a sense of pride for what the members have done together as one company.

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