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Graduation season is upon us. Scholars throughout the area can be spotted donning caps, gowns and stoles as they celebrate completing academic requirements; proud parents, families and friends are honoring loved ones for their achievements; and important, influential people encourage graduates in keynote addresses that are delivered to offer hope and a charge for the future.
It’s a feel-good, empowering time.
Even if you aren’t or haven’t been graduation-adjacent this year, remember the times you have been. Graduations are more than formal ceremonies, they are a symbol of completion and progress, and offer cheer for all those who take part in the commencement activities.
Merriam-Webster defines the verb “graduate” as: “to pass from one stage of experience, proficiency, or prestige to a usually higher one.”
Of course, graduates should get high praise. From pre-kindergarten graduates to those getting doctorates, it’s important to acknowledge the hard work and long hours put in.
However, graduate or not, you’ve put in time as well.
We’re about two weeks away from the halfway point of 2023 and if you’re reading this, you’ve made it through what has already been an eventful year. From the 15 ballots it took Republicans to name Kevin McCarthy (California) as House Speaker earlier this year; to the storms that ripped through and decimated parts of Mississippi; to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions to erase conversations about race and sexuality in schools and defund diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at the state’s public colleges; and more than 200 mass shootings, it’s been a long 24 weeks or so. There’s also the further conversations after the overturning of Roe V. Wade and attempted attacks at birth control and other reproductive rights; gun violence and rights discussions; Black people grappling with racism and being murdered by police and civilians alike; and locally– Congress’ February decision to overturn the D.C. Council’s Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA).
Notwithstanding what’s happening in the world and Washington metro area, there’s also personal pains and trials you’ve had to overcome.
Now is the time to celebrate all you’ve been through while also making plans to begin the “higher” stage as noted in the definition of graduation. After completing the tasks, gaining the skills and getting the rewards, we’re expected to take those lessons and implement them in the next chapter of our lives. Whether it be advancing to the next grade, getting a new job or promotion, completing a task or goal, or simply finishing that thick book you’ve been working to get through, congratulations. Now get to work on that next objective or dream.