So you’ve graduated, now what?
Over the past couple weeks, several hundred students from Redmond threw their flat hats into the air — knowing that they will soon come down to Earth.
Capped by throwing your caps in the air, high school graduation is a day devoted to celebrating an important point in students’ lives. Examinations are finally over, scruffiness is replaced with fancy clothes and parents admire their children for reaching the finishing line of a long marathon.
Most of all, it is a time of unrestrained optimism.
Graduation speeches make everyone glow, students beam with self-fulfillment, parents realize that their assistance — both financial and emotional — was worthwhile, and the faculty have the satisfaction of bringing another group through the system.
Freezing this moment in time has an emotional effect. Each individual on the roll call will go on to have a life of joy and pain. Loss, hardship and frustration will be mixed with awards and honors.
The future always seems more promising than the present, and the present on graduation day is pretty good — even if it is not quite reality.
But graduation is over and it’s time to face reality. And let’s face it, this year presents some gigantic obstacles for the Class of 2008.
The economy is hovering at the brink of recession. Home prices continue to slip, while gas prices continue to rise. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low.
What’s a graduate to do?
Despite obstacles, the challenge is to rise above it all and make a difference.
Let’s hope they can rise to those challenges.
For the first time, many of them will be able to vote. And in November, they’ll get their first big chance to weigh in on the country’s future. Their engagement is critical.
Some graduates will be looking for housing and affordable housing is like the Roman Empire: a thing of the past. Living with the parents for a few more years might not be a bad idea. If you do move out, at least get some roommmates. How else are you going to afford it?
They’ll enter a tough job market, some pursuing careers, others seeking part-time work to put themselves through college.
Some will embark on military careers, serving our nation at home and abroad during this critical, controversial time of war.
Some will leave Redmond, perhaps forever, but many more will stay and, it is hoped, become active and engaged members of the community. Take Mayor John Marchione, for example. He grew up in Redmond and is now leading our city, which is constantly changing and growing.
For the wide-eyed graduate leaving the nest, there are so many choices, so many dreams.
Today’s graduates should not accept our country’s troubled economy but find ways both big and small to challenge it. With their education, their skills, their drive and their commitment, they can and must be part of the solution, building a stronger future for Redmond, Washington and the rest of our nation.
Like Marchione, Redmond continues to produce bonafide leaders.
As those clad in cap and gown let loose in celebration, they must keep their challenges at the forefront: To rise above it all and make a difference.