Winston Churchill, statesman, diplomat, and warrior, commented in a speech after the Second Battle of Alamein, a victory, “This is not the end, it is not the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Much the same can be said of Commencement and the departure of the Class of 2017. No matter the graduation, whether it be from high school or a doctoral program, this chapter is “perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Spring is full of hope. The snows melt, although around here that can be considered a February phenomenon as well. Flowers bloom. Trees regain their leaves. And graduates look toward tomorrow. We celebrate the achievements of everyone getting a degree, certificate, or diploma. Everything done to this point represents the beginning. The real challenge begins tomorrow, whether it be matriculating from high school to community college, community college to a four-year, or moving from school to the world of work.
When in school, there is a commonality of purpose, a cultural symbiosis, a sense of belonging. Transitioning from high school to college disrupts that equilibrium, just as transferring from community college to the four-year creates emotional havoc. Going to the world of work is perhaps the greatest demand. However, each of these are daunting on day one, just as the experience you just completed was challenging on day one. Tomorrow will be a bit more comfortable, not necessarily less demanding or challenging, but you will be more comfortable accepting that which lay ahead.
Throughout my schooling, I found that each step had its uniqueness, though the progressions were far more alike than they were different. Going from the two-year to the four-year was scary, but not out of my ability range. Transitioning from school to the world of work was frightening, at least at first. Eventually, each day became a bit more routine, “the game slowed,” and I was able to meet the responsibilities I had been hired to meet. Becoming the President of Salem Community College has been a challenge, but each day becomes a bit more manageable.
To all who are leaving these hallowed halls or those of another educational institution, we wish you well. Your success is truly our success. And remember, nothing is more valuable than an education.