Commencement Blog 2019

Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker

To the High School Graduating Class of 2019

You still got another four years.  You are starting over as a freshman, going to a bigger pond than you were in before.  Those of you who plan on going to four years of college, there is something unique about this experience that is unlike anything you will encounter in life.

Everyone, or a majority of people, go to high school and graduate.  Not that it isn’t a huge accomplishment or that you didn’t work hard, but let’s be honest, some of you worked a lot more than others.  Some of you are graduating with an elite status and others just want out of high school no matter their grades or accomplishments.

Not everyone has a college experience.  Many will go straight into the workforce, which is commendable.  At some point in becoming an adult you need to start adding back into society.  Work hard and know that you are living life and it’s what you make it.  Spend less than you think you need, live on less and pursue excellence as you work.  High School has prepared you to go out on your own with great potential for success.

To those going to college, here is where you have an opportunity you do not want to miss.  You do not want to look back on your college years and realize there was something that could only occur in this window of time in your life.  You will never get this back so don’t miss what I am about to share with you.

Your college years, right out of high school, between the ages of 18 to 22, is unlike any other time in your life. Compared to your fellow High School graduates who are pursuing other opportunities, what college has to offer you is complete autonomy and complete lack of responsibility to anyone except your grades. You are not making money as a career, so you don’t have a boss who can control your financial well being (Student loans is a different subject here). You are out of the house for the first time and do not have to report back to your parental units on the daily (Is that still a phrase?).

You do not have the constant nag of school administration on your back treating you like a child, because while you are in high school, you are not seen as an adult.  When you are in college you are treated as an adult but you aren’t quite there yet.  To be an adult you have to be fully self-sufficient without the aid of your parents, or the college you are attending.

You are not required to attend your classes or do your work, you have the true freedom to decide if you want to learn and pass your class. There is the only consequence of a failing grade.  Your grades determine the scholarships you keep or even your ability to continue in school.  Your professors are not in charge of your grades, you are.  You do the work, you put in the time and show that you have mastered the material and your grades will reflect this process.

This is a blessing and a curse. A blessing to be freed from so much that had held you down but a curse because it is easy to let this ball be dropped.  So, decide how you want to carry this ball.  Keep a firm grip with one hand and use your other hand to experience your new found freedom.  Some students use both hands, and miss out on the freedom they have.  Some don’t hold it at all and the freedom is stripped away.

This freedom from responsibility isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s different.  There will never be a time in your life again where you have no responsibility to anyone, complete autonomy and time to kill.  Your breaks, winter, spring and summer are GOLDEN.  It’s one of the reasons I love being back in education.  The pattern of life of education is wonderful.  Work hard and play hard.  Use your free time, before you only have 10 days off a year, to do something you might not have the free time to do again with the youth that you have.

I spent two summers in Northern California, interning at a church and living the California dream.  I spent another summer in Santiago, Chile with a group of high school kids putting on puppet shows and spreading the gospel.  I spent a couple summers taking middle school and high school students to church camp.  I spent winter and spring breaks snowboarding in Durango for $99 season passes.  I loved my time in college.  I got A’s and B’s just by going to class and doing the work.  Just show up and do what is asked and you will be fine.

What will the next four years of your life look like?  It will be marvelous and carefree for a time.  This summer, before you ship off to college, make your last high school memories.  Your life will never be the same again.  Remember those life lessons, don’t be afraid of the future and be emotionally in the present. 

Congratulations class of 2019, as a friend once told me, you are now basically high school students without a curfew. Enjoy!

P.S. Make wise choices, what happens in college does not stay at college. 

Truth & Love
Matthew J. Diaz

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Looking forward to your addition to this dialogue.