SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

May 23, 2014

Column: Dear graduates, life happens

Congratulations, college graduates of 2014. Now it gets weirder, harder and scarier but also more satisfying and fun.

It is to be hoped you got a few laughs from your celebrity commencement speaker. Who can top Secretary of State John Kerry praising the diversity of Yale University, with 61 countries and many ethnicities represented in the senior class? “Today, you are graduating as the most diverse class in Yale’s long history. Or as they call it in the NBA, Donald Sterling’s worst nightmare,” Kerry said, referring to the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner embattled over racist remarks.

Kerry also told the graduates not to be discouraged about the dysfunction in Washington. “It’s hopelessness that says that our best days are behind us. I couldn’t disagree more.”

Then there was Jill Abramson, newly fired as the first female executive editor of The New York Times. She told the 2014 class at Wake Forest University to be resilient, admitting that she is scared and feels the “sting of losing” but is also excited about what comes next.

This is the year of diversity, equality and humanity. But, as always, there are the standard pieces of advice we hear year after year that continue to make sense. There’s a reason cliches endure.

So, after the obligatory jokes, most commencement speakers invariably dip into the same pool for their advice.

The hundred thousand or $200,000 you, your parents and lenders forked over for your education may make you a lot of money over your lifetime. But right now, it is not worth much.

Your starter job is going to be tedious, but if you treat it right, it will get you started right. It will teach you to show up on time ready to work. It may teach you to be nice. How great it would be if people acted with kindness to all, even those they hate. Your first real job should teach you to go above and beyond what is expected and to do your best at every task.

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