What I didn’t recognize was that there were millions of other 18 year olds out there with the same set of goals. I also didn’t realize how protected I had been by my parents, my teachers, my coaches, and to some degree my friends. As an adult I realize that is the point of high school; to prepare you for “life without a net”, except the net is still there. Reality hit soon enough. Success for me changed into being able to pay the rent on time and getting my clunker to make it to my college job.
There will be times when you will forget the values and training instilled upon you by your parents, relatives, coaches, directors, teachers, and school staff such as integrity, character, honesty, compassion, drive, patience, and how to find the area of a circle. You will be focused on what will feel like survival at the time. That is okay. Your skills will come forward and you will grow to appreciate your days of “survival” as they become visible in your rear view mirror. Please remember to heed the warning “Objects may be closer than they appear.”
So what is my advice to you, 19 years and 51 weeks after I took the plunge mere feet from where we sit today? Remember to love your family. They care more deeply for you than you will probably ever know. Remember to thank the people who got you to where you are today, tomorrow and ten years from now. Those two words are powerful and will cause your mentors to radiate with happiness. Do not put a limit, definition, or number on success. Let success evolve into everything surrounding your life, throughout your life. Lastly, contribute; give back. I am convinced that there is enough character, brain power, and skill in this room to cure cancer, lead the free world, explore other planets, or invent the next generation ShamWow. For the short term, how about helping your parents get the lawn mowed, trash taken out, and rooms cleaned as they prepare for your graduation parties.
Congratulations class of 2009, where-ever life takes you, you will always be Wildcats.