By Pat Jenkins
As local high school seniors go through graduation ceremonies a few days from now, they’ll be getting more than their diplomas. Advice for their lives ahead will come in droves, has been for a while, and likely will continue in their young-adult years.
Here’s some more. People with a variety of backgrounds – from educators to truck drivers and community activists – were asked by The Dispatch for their words of wisdom for the class of 2014. Among the advice was:
• Don’t just “go out and play,” but instead put your time to good use, said Fred Knight as he sat holding his dog at a campsite at Alder Lake Park, where the retired former truck driver and his wife, Camille, were spending a few days last week relaxing and fishing. For her part, Camille urged new graduates to keep learning, whether in college or trade schools.
• The world “needs you,” and you can give it what it needs through your compassion for others, the education you’ve received, and your nurturing of future generations, said David Hammond, a Bethel School District assistant superintendent.
Commencement exercises will be held Thursday at the Tacoma Dome for the Bethel district’s high schools, including Graham-Kapowsin and Bethel, and Saturday at Pacific Lutheran University for Eatonville High. From there, the newly minted graduates will embark on more education, careers and countless other life adventures. It’s an exciting time, and their fellow community members share in that sense of anticipation for what the future holds. Been there, done that, they say to the latest cap-and-gown crop. And they offer their advice on making the most of it.
Mark Lindquist, Pierce County prosecuting attorney
“The most important thing to know when you graduate is yourself. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, advised his students to ‘follow your bliss.’ This phrase, sometimes misunderstood as an endorsement of hedonism, is instead an instruction to find your passion and place in the world. ‘If you follow your bliss,’ Campbell said, ‘you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living … Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you.’ Enjoy the journey.”
Lori Culver, executive director of Eatonville Family Agency
“Congratulations for successfully reaching this important milestone. What an exciting time in your life. I know you are busy deciding your next steps – maybe college, a job, or serving in the military – but I hope you will spend just as much time deciding the type of person you want to be. My advice to you is simple, really. Be kind, show compassion for others, and help where you can. Get actively involved in a cause you believe in. There is plenty in this world to be negative about, but the secret to success is to remain positive, believe in yourself and the good in others, and know that you can make a difference. If you do this, I guarantee wonderful things will happen and you will be hugely successful in life, no matter your career choice.”
Fred Knight, retired truck driver
“Don’t go along with the urge to go out and play now that you’re done with high school. When I was 18, I went out and partied when I should have focused on what I might do for a career. I did alright with what I wound up doing for a living, but my advice is to be open to all possibilities and use your time wisely.”
David Hammond, assistant superintendent of Bethel School District and a former high school principal
“You are embarking on a new journey that will enable you to pursue your passions and continue to grow into that legacy that this community works so hard to produce. You are entering a world that needs you. Turn on the evening news and you will see that. Open the newspaper and you will see that. Drive through your community and you will see that. The world needs your compassion to help heal conflict, your goodwill to help those in need, your intelligence to question and discover, and your caring to raise future generations of responsible citizens. At times you may feel alone and unsure of your direction. Use the values your family has instilled in you and remember the things that all of your teachers taught you. You will make a difference in the world. And you will make us all proud.”
Nita Best, staff member at Alder Lake Park
“Be true to yourself and your own journey.”
Krestin Bahr, Eatonville School District superintendent
If I were to give advice, it would center around six ideals:
“(1) Remember that life is a journey. You may think you know exactly what you will do, but remember to enjoy the process. It may be that the extra detour you take allows you extra joy in your life so be open to it and work hard while you travel. (2) Service is powerful. Giving makes you feel good and makes the world a better place. Your highest potential cannot be achieved without a commitment to reaching out to others. (3) Everything you do matters. It is the small things that make the difference. As it is said that it does not matter what you say that others remember, it is what you do and how you make others feel that makes all the difference. (4) You are never alone. All of the people who have loved and supported you want you to achieve. It is true that it is up to you and that the sky is the limit, and that you will always have support for the challenges and successes that you will have in life. (5) You must be fearless. Your next step is a process, not an event. You will have successes and failures, but if you move forward with courage and goodwill to others, your path will be uniquely yours. You have the benefit of youth and the fearless nature it involves. Keep your eye on your goals and create the life you wish to lead. There is the saying ‘Shoot for the moon for if you miss, you will still be among the stars.’ Aim high and challenge yourself as you move forward. (6) Be curious. The world is an interesting place. Learn as much as you can and always question, wonder and have an inquisitive nature. Be open to learning for the rest of your life. You never know what lies beyond the next horizon.”