No commencement, but plenty of perseverance

This article was originally published in and is used courtesy of the Monroe News

Perhaps we should add the letter “P” to Monroe County Community College’s student transcripts this year. That’s “P” as in perseverance.

To state that “It’s been a long haul” for them to complete their winter 2020 semester courses is an understatement. Along with our secondary schools, MCCC students are left without (at least for now) an on-site commencement ceremony. Thus, a few words.

Our candidates for graduation at Monroe County Community College are a diverse group of men and women with ranging from late teens to early twenties to older returning students. Each, though, will be an alumnus of MCCC’s 2020 graduating class.

I remember when some of our students began their studies. Quite a few were fresh out of high school while some hardly remembered what high school was all about. Several had been laid off from full-time employment while others have never worked for pay. Some students have the luxury of living at home under their parents, guardians, relatives or step-parents’ roofs. A number of our students are married and several are divorced with and without children in addition to a myriad of obligations.

More students attend MCCC part-time than full-time. And many students are “stop out” who leave and return to college. Backgrounds are varied, but the mutual decision to earn a degree is a common one and the Monroe County Community faculty members place a valuable part of students’ goals. And so does the support staff and administrators of the college. And friends and relatives. In ways known only to each student, people play an important, integral part of the success in earning a degree.

Male or female, young or old, being able to take care of yourself is a wonderful thing. Students should feel good that they can control their destiny and care for themselves. It’s the best life insurance policy they’ll ever own.

It’s appropriate for students to take the time to thank someone for part of their success. Appreciation is sincere pay. If words don’t come or seem to fit, a touch of the hand or a light in the eye speaks with quiet eloquence. In whatever form, thank someone.

We celebrate many of the times on our lives through ritual. Graduation is one of them; it’s a significant, emotional event. We “tell” time by cuckoo clocks, by calendars, by candles. We “remember” time by photos, ticket stubs, antiques, and tassels on graduation caps. We wear funny hats on New Year’s Eve. We don’t remember our actual birthday, but our parents do. Should we buy them a birthday card each year?

Some thoughts for candidates for our 2020 graduates: Our time in life in irreversible and in cosmic time, the universe is 15 thousand million years old. Think for a moment about your time in life. Think of it as a horizontal line…left end is birth and right end is death. Assume you will leave to an average age of 78 for women and 72 for men. Where are you on your lifeline? Move along your lifeline and mentally place an “X” on it. Are your in the first quarter of your life? The first third? Is your life half over? What do you want to accomplish with the rest of your life? How much of your potential are you using?

In your life so far, do you like the person you see in the mirror each morning? The friend you are? The child you are? The partner or spouse that you are? Are you calm and easygoing? Do you have regret for hurting someone? Do you have unfinished business with a friend or relative? Are you as spiritual as you want to be? Do you want to live with that person you see in the mirror 24 hours a day for the rest of your life?

Think again of your life thus far. Are you faithful to your values? Have you ever taking the time to sort what is important to you? Not what’s important to others but what is important to you. It has to with self-study, self- approval and inner excellence and it takes dedication and courage to deeply examine what you think and fell about your values. And it takes courage to practice your values because they’ll sometimes be in conflict with others. Why do so many people think you have to agree with another person to find value? We learn little from those who agree with except to become more entrenched with our prior beliefs. Open your mind and explore…there is value in disagreement.

Do you ever think about the fact that of all the people you know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave or lose? And no one can make you happy. Others may contribute to your happiness, but your feelings are your responsibility; happiness is an inside job. You are free to choose your now and what happens is within your control.