Timeless Advice for the Class of 2016

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2016! You did it!

Earlier this month, my not-so “little” brother graduated college back in my home state of Pennsylvania. It was an exciting day for the family—marking the last of four siblings to walk across the stage. The keynote speaker was Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections Dr. John Wetzel. His candor was refreshing and he offered profound advice, that admittedly hit home with me. 

Dr. Wetzel began by reminding the students they were not sitting in caps and gowns by mistake. They chose their path to college, worked hard and earned their seats at the ceremony.

He went on to explain that as long as we continuously set goals for ourselves, we’ll continue to end up in “college graduation-type moments” of success. The goals may change, but we need to have the confidence to pick a path and pursue them.

He provided a much needed reminder that, “You’re doing better than you think you are.” A reminder that we deserve the success we have achieved. It’s too easy to get down on ourselves, become overwhelmed, stressed and worried about where we’re at in our lives and careers. It’s too easy to compare ourselves to others. At the end of the day we should embrace our own successes. 

His speech was short and to the point (another reason the crowd loved him),  offering tidbits of timeless advice: 

  • Set a goal and pick a path. Understand that the goal may change along the path, but the key is you were dedicated enough to pick a direction.
  • None of us have gotten anywhere without other people. No matter how much of an “independent woman (or man)” you try to be, it truly takes a village to succeed. 
  • Social media “likes” will only get you so far. Focus on the big picture and live in the moment. Not everything you do needs to end up on Facebook.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. When we look back, today’s BIG decisions will seem small.
  • Always chose charity. As you find your place in this world, always choose to leave things better off than you found them. Pick up a piece of trash, volunteer and be kind.

If you have other life advice for this year’s graduating class, please feel free to share in the comments. 

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Katie Jo Kisow

Katie Jo is a twenty-something communications YoPro living, working and playing in The Land. She's happiest surrounded by friends, family and cats. As an avid sports fan, outdoor enthusiast and runner, she's always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @YourPalKJ.

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