I have just returned from a wonderful weekend in Nashville, where I attended the graduation of our granddaughter from Vanderbilt University. This is the same little girl who was a shy demure child who suddenly grew into a strikingly beautiful mature young lady.
I knew that she was a good student, but I quickly filled with pride when it was announced that she was graduating Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Economics and Mathematics. Additionally, it was announced that she was being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. While I’m bragging, these distinctions are a continuation of her brother’s achievement as a Presidential Scholar who graduated 2 years ago from Southern Methodist University majoring in Biomedical Engineering. We have one more granddaughter just entering her college experience at Triton Community College in suburban Chicago.
It has been said that I can be a cynical, grumpy old man, but I am not apologizing. I’m most concerned about the problems we are passing on to our children to address and resolve. We all want a better, happier, healthy world for mankind.
After this past weekend, I want to tell you that THERE IS A BRIGHT LIGHT at the end of the tunnel. All across these great United States of America young adults are graduating from colleges and Universities and moving into the work force to hopefully start their climb up the ladder of life. I found it to be a most exciting experience to see the fresh faces with eagerness in their eyes to accept the challenges of the future.
Reading the graduation program, I found it both enlightening and promising to see just what our youth have studied and the magnificent achievements they have made. Some of the Master and Doctorial Thesis subjects I do not even understand, but they are the foundation to making life on the Planet better and sustainable.
It has been a long time since I spent a weekend witnessing so many happy, smiling parents, grandparents, relatives and friends beaming with pride at their student’s magnificent accomplishments. I witnessed students who expressed joy at their achievements and a strong desire to face with confidence the challenges ahead.
I was equally impressed by the degree of comprehension and intention to participate in the current political process by these VU graduates. Additionally, I noted a significant willingness to look forward and think of what they can do to improve the community around them, i.e., participate in the Teach America program, participation in charitable fund raisers like the Cancer Marathon, and civil activities such as Habit for Humanity. Our student bodies clearly have a broader focus than just academic achievement. Back in the 50’s when I matriculated all we wanted to do was makeup for lost time caused by two Wars and join the workforce.
My faith in the future was firmly renewed by the quality and values of the graduates I met. Despite the Herculean problems facing our country and world, we are in good hands with a strong, inquisitive, knowledgeable next generation stepping forward to improve and reaffirm its legacy.