2011 post-commencement thoughts

I haven’t had much to time to blog lately with end of semester stuff, reading thesis drafts, grading papers, and all those things professors do. However, yesterday I went to both the undergraduate and graduate student commencements for the College of Education and Human Development for the University of Minnesota and wanted to share a few thoughts.

1. One of our commencement speakers Na’im Madyun, gave a creative, thoughtful address to the undergraduates. T. Mychael Rambo also performed a musical piece and gave a speech in which he said his father used to tell him, “Everyone is born with a degree in the humanities and accounting. You are accountable for yourself and everyone is a human being, so act like one.” Love this!

2. Each time I go to commencement I am reminded by the 1997 commencement address by Oprah at Wellesley College, when I was teaching and coaching tennis there. She said, “The first time someone shows you their real self, believe them,” I have reflected on and used this advice many times over the years and it holds true every time. It holds true for people who both enrich your life, and for those who are toxic energy vampires. Her address is worth reading.

My awesome graduate students (L to R) Alyssa Norris, MA; ME, Chelsey Thul, Ph.D.; Katie Wurst, MA

3. Seeing the smiling faces of the students as they walked across the stage reminded me why I am in higher education…and everyone needs a reminder like that from time to time.

4. Three of my amazing graduate students walked in commencement, including my very first doctoral student.  Oprah read Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Women” poem to the women of Wellesley College, and it is a fitting poem these graduate students and the others I have the privilege of working with on a daily basis. I am very grateful for all the students I get to work with and teach (even when they are questioning me about their final grades!)

Summary: Act like a human being with kindness and empathy, be grateful for the people who make a difference in your life, and make sure to take the time to reflect on why you do what you do.

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