If you could speak at commencement, what would you say?

The graduating class of 2012 stands facing you in their caps and gowns. What would you tell them?


“Members of the class of 2012…” Those words are going to be uttered by college presidents, deans, and commencement speakers over the next few weeks.

It’s been 15 years since I graduated college. It’s a day I remember like it was yesterday, though. Bill Cosby‘s wife, Camille, spoke at Temple University‘s commencement ceremony at the Spectrum in Philadelphia that day. It was inspiring. Mr. Cosby even got up to say a few things.

After seeing blog posts and tweets about student friends that were graduating, I began to think. I posted this question on Facebook: “If you were giving a commencement speech, what would you tell a graduating class?”

The responses were wonderful. Here’s what a few friends would tell a graduating class.

@MattLaCasse: Your profession is likely practiced in every state in America, and most everywhere else in the world. Your happiness will be more dictated by where you are than what your job is. Do your job someplace that makes you happy.

@JBMHR (Jeannine Brown Miller): ‎Listen to the direction that you are intended to be going. If you keep running into obstacles, stop and reassess where you are, what you are doing and determine change necessary to remove some of them. If we keep doing the same thing that isn’t working, we will get the same results (the old insanity thing). Embrace change, recognize that challenges bring lessons and blessings, and be open enough to be able to find the good in all that comes your way!

@JoshfromMaine (Josh Morris): You don’t choose a life, you live one. There’s no such thing as limitations, only fears. Pursue a position based on people, profession and location, and paychecks will come. Don’t get cable.

@BigGreenPen (Paula Kiger): Don’t fool yourself into thinking you have all the time in the world/don’t think you are above doing the unnoticed little work to get familiar with an environment you want to be a part of.

@PaigeHolden: Stay in your own lane. You only start to doubt yourself when you worry about what everyone else is doing. True success has nothing to do with conventional measurements like position, wealth or winning thing. It has to do with finding a balance that works for you, and only you.

@RMiriam (Rachel Donner): The next 6-8 years are pretty much going to suck. You’ll be at a frustrating entry-level job with lots of work and no authority. You’ll likely drift away from most of your college friends, and have to establish new relationships. Don’t let it get you down and doubt yourself. You’ll get through it and be better off for it, knowing much more clearly who you are, where you want to be and the path ahead.

@Buffalogal (Nicole Schuman):You cannot plan every aspect of your life. Embrace change!

So, what would I tell a graduating class? The following:

People are going to tell you that you can’t. You can. People are going to doubt you. Don’t doubt yourself. Most of all, you will be faced with adversity. Don’t turn away from it. Take it head on and conquer it. The only way you’ll grow is if you face failure, doubt, and negativity. Why? Because all those things will make you stronger. It’s up to you to use the failure, doubt, and negativity, and make it positive. Go with confidence.

I’d love to hear what you would tell a graduating class.

Jason Mollica is the president of JRM Comm, a social media marketing and public relations consultancy. He blogs at One Guy’s Journey where a version of this post first appeared.

Topics: PR

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