It’s Called a Commencement Because It Signifies The Beginning

Thursday April 27th I will have the privilege of attending Commencement at Brigham Young University where we will begin the celebration of my son Dalton’s graduation from college. What an incredible achievement graduation is for our children! And what an incredible blessing as a parent to be able to go and watch your child fulfill a major life milestone and complete such an important life goal.

To all of you who are graduating yourselves, or to all of you who have children or grand-children graduating I say “Congratulations! Enjoy every moment of these celebrations because you have earned them and you deserve to revel in your accomplishment!”

I myself could not be any more proud of my son Dalton than I am today for his accomplishment at BYU, but my biggest source of pride in Dalton isn’t because he is graduating from college this week, my biggest source of pride is for the man he has grown-up to become, the loving husband he chooses to be, and for the role of a loving father he will soon take on with the birth of his newborn son this August.  Dalton is a man of integrity and a truly good person and that is by far what I am most proud of him for.

Some of the greatest words of advice have been shared in different commencement speeches over the years. As I went back and read a few I had a hard time picking just one or two quotes because every talk I came across was filled with words of wisdom that were such great advice. So I decided that in today and tomorrow’s blogs I am going to share some excerpts from just a few commencement talks that contain amazing advice we can all benefit from hearing.

This first one I’m sharing because it’s a commencement talk given by one of my son Dalton’s favorite comic strip creators, Bill Watterson (creator of  Calvin and Hobbes):

“ …it’s worth recognizing that there is no such thing as an overnight success. You will do well to cultivate the resources in yourself that bring you happiness outside of success or failure. The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along. It’s a good idea to try to enjoy the scenery on the detours, because you’ll probably take a few.” 

This next excerpt is from the commencement speech given by Michael Dell at the University of Austin Texas in 2003:

 “… you’ve accomplished something great and honorable and important…and it’s time for you to move on to what’s next. But you must not let anything deter you from taking those first steps. You have an abundance of opportunities before you—but don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity. Recognize that there will be failures, and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, for there is very little learning in success

…With the understanding that you will face tough times and amazing experiences, you must also commit to the adventure. Just have faith in the skills and the knowledge you’ve been blessed with and go. Because regrets are born of paths never taken.

Then, as you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.

…You too have an advantage that you’re not encumbered by years of conventional thinking. You have a new and fresh perspective with which to view the world. Your time at this great university has helped sharpen your sense of discovery, and there is no better catalyst for success than curiosity.

…Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking. In organizations it’s called team building. And in life it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.

And even as you keep traveling the road ahead, you must always remember where you came from. Each of us carries the dust and dreams of the places that helped shape us…

…The key is to listen to your heart and let it carry you in the direction of your dreams. I’ve learned that it’s possible to set your sights high and achieve your dreams and do it with integrity, character, and love. And each day that you’re moving toward your dreams without compromising who you are, you’re winning. 

… it’s your journey. Your path to travel and your responsibilities along the way. You are free to choose, and you are free to succeed. It just takes hard work and a dream. Most who finally leave this great university never imagine that they’re going to change the world. Yet every one of you will. How you change the world, is all up to you to decide.”

I’ll share a few more excerpts from other talks in tomorrow’s blog as well. Commencement is the beginning of an incredible journey ahead, and that adventure is just getting started…so get ready to hang on for the ride!

Have a fabulous day everyone. Especially you Dalton – Congratulations and know that your Mama loves you!

Celebrate life’s new beginnings!

~Amy Rees Anderson

1 Comment

  • Jane says:

    Love this – what a blessed son to have a mom who raised him and what a blessing to be the mom of a guy who chose your values and made them his own. I’m looking forward to more excerpts tomorrow. I love listening to commencement addresses. Nothing bad ever happens in them.

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