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Sharing advice for 2013 graduates

As hundreds of Lawrence County students don their caps and gowns this week as part of that rite of passage from high school into adulthood, I thought about what I would like to have known when I was in their shoes 20 years ago.

For me that always starts with a relatively simple question that often ends with a complicated answer: Knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?

Those answers would drive my advice. Here are a few thoughts.

> Remember that the race is far from over. High school is just the first stage of the marathon. College or post-secondary education is arguably the most important part. So stay focused.

> Don’t be afraid if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up or realize that you have chosen a path may not be the best fit after all. That’s what college is about. Sometimes it means learning who you are and who you want to be.

> Try new things. An important aspect of college and post-secondary education is that much of the learning comes from the course of life. That happens well outside the classroom. Experience new cultures, ideas and things outside your comfort zone.

> Make good decisions. No one lives in a vacuum and poor choices can come back to haunt you later or even change your life forever. Everyone makes mistakes but the key is to minimize those and learn from them.

> Listen to your parents. They want what is best for you and often give advice tempered through the lens of experience.

> Don’t let anyone keep you from dreaming big. Some of the most successful people in the world have gotten that way because they achieved something that others said wouldn’t work. Of course it is practical to have a fallback plan but it is still possible to commit fully.

> Don’t take anything for granted. Every day we are on this world is a blessing. We are afforded many luxuries in this great country that others will never have. It is important that we don’t lose sight of that.

> Stay humble and don’t forget where you came from. Nothing is wrong with being proud of success and confidence is certainly a part of that but no one should take themselves too seriously. Growing up in Appalachia offers important lessons that shouldn’t be forgotten.

In the end though, all the advice in the world will only help you make informed decisions. It is up to each of us, as adults, to follow our hearts and make our own path.

Good luck Class of 2013!


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.