Weekly Column

May 03 2021

To Our Graduates

On weekends every May, families and communities across Nebraska come together to recognize our graduating seniors. Whether they are graduating from high school, college, or trade school, this is their time to shine. They have put in the work, they have completed what they started, and now they are being recognized for their achievements and they get to celebrate.

To the graduates: Congratulations! You did it. We are proud of your determination and your accomplishments. You are moving from one stage of life to the next, and whatever you choose to pursue in life, you can be certain that you are vital to building a stronger future for Nebraska and for America.

To their families: Thank you. Even though your student may be the one walking across the stage, they could not have come this far without your encouragement and support. They will always appreciate the sacrifices you have made for them. You are important to them and will continue to be as they chart their future course.

My alma mater, UNL, is holding its graduation on Saturday, May 8. This ceremony will be held at Memorial Stadium, which is fitting given that the commencement speaker will be famed Husker football coach and former congressman Tom Osborne.

Not all graduates will hear from a legend like Coach Osborne, but thankfully, most schools across our state are planning to return to in-person ceremonies for the class of 2021. We have come a long way from the virtual commencements and Zoom parties that last year’s graduates took part in.

Just like the class of 2020, the students who are graduating this month are doing so after adapting to the difficult circumstances of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Their final years of school were not what any of them expected. Many activities were cancelled and milestones missed, but they adapted to the changing circumstances, completed their coursework, and are ready to move forward with their lives. 

As a mother and grandmother who served on my local school board for many years, I can never resist having a conversation with graduates and sharing some of what I’ve learned from watching my children graduate, and from being in your position myself.

My advice would be to spend as little time as possible on your phone and your other “gadgets.” Choose instead to unplug and spend these precious moments with the people in your life who have been there for you throughout your education and who will support you on the journey ahead.

I promise you, there is no substitute for genuine, face-to-face interaction with those who love you.

And at some point before you walk that stage to receive your diploma, take a few moments for yourself. Find somewhere quiet, away from all the noise, and reflect on what you have accomplished.  

You did this, and you are capable of continuing to succeed. I know you can. Nebraska’s future is bright with graduates like you leading the way. Congratulations! I wish you the very best in your future endeavors. 

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.