A Glimpse of Graduation

Dianna Adams

Bachelor of Arts, Literary Studies

Iris KwongMany years ago a man worked for a railroad in the central offices in Denver. He was in charge of what was called "head—end traffic." Those were the days when nearly everyone rode passenger trains.

One morning he received a call from his counterpart in Newark, New Jersey. The man on the phone said, "Train number 47H3 has arrived, but it has no baggage car. Somewhere, 300 passengers have lost their baggage, and they are mad."

The young employee went immediately to work to find out where the baggage car may have gone. He found it had been properly loaded and properly trained in Oakland, California. It had been moved to the railroad in Salt Lake City, carried to Denver and down to Pueblo, put on another line, and moved to St. Louis. There it was to be handled by another railroad, which would take it to Newark, New Jersey. But some thoughtless switchman in the St. Louis yards moved a small piece of steel just 7.5 centimeters — a switch point — and then pulled the lever to uncouple the car.

The investigating employee had discovered that a baggage car that belonged in Newark, New Jersey, was in fact in New Orleans, Louisiana — 2,400 kilometers from its destination. Just the 7.5—centimeter movement of the switch in the St. Louis yard by a careless switchman had started the baggage car on the wrong track, and the distance from its true destination increased dramatically. That is the way it is with our lives. Instead of following a steady course, we can be pulled by some mistaken idea in another direction. The movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but, if continued, that very small movement becomes a great gap and we may find ourselves far from where we intended to go.

We stand on the threshold of new beginnings as one chapter of our life ends, and another begins. Today is the manifestation of several switch points for all of us graduating. Several small choices have led us to this significant occasion as we embark onto the next phase of our lives. Some of us will continue with graduate and doctorate work. Others will go forward into the work force, become volunteers, perhaps mentors, while others may choose marriage, and parenthood.

Today is a momentous day for us as graduates. Several good and even some bad choices have led us to this moment. Holding a degree of completion says to the world, "I stayed on my chosen path and did not stray." The life of a college student is a difficult one with numerous distractions. The fact that you’re here today tells not only the world, but yourselves, that you met your course, and stayed true to your path. Several switch points in your lives may have veered you in various directions, but somehow, someway, you have each successfully made it to this point. Good for you!

As the sun sets on today, and rises again tomorrow, we begin a new season. We have in our paths several switch points ahead that will lead us in countless directions. It is our stewardship as graduates to take the valuable information accumulated in school and make the world a better place. Our education in government tells us the importance of voting, while our education in history teaches us to avoid the mistakes of the past. Regardless of our choices, we must strive to be smart, be clean, be true, and be humble.

Choose your friends carefully. It is they who will lead you in one direction or the other. Everybody wants friends, and everybody needs friends. No one wishes to be without them. But never lose sight of the fact that it is your friends who will lead you along the paths that you will follow. While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you.

Be smart and continue to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. A wise man once said, "There can be no doubt, none whatever, that education pays. Do not short-circuit your lives. If you do so, you will pay for it over and over and over again."

Be clean. We live in a world that is filled with filth and sleaze, a world that reeks of evil. It can be found all around us on television, at the movies, even popular literature, and on the Internet. You can’t afford to invest your valuable time observing it. If you continually fortify your minds with uplifting entertainment, you will be strengthened with increased mental sagacity. Choose your friends carefully. It is they who will lead you in one direction or the other. Everybody wants friends, and everybody needs friends. No one wishes to be without them. But never lose sight of the fact that it is your friends who will lead you along the paths that you will follow. While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you. They will be your safeguards in situations where you may vacillate between choices, and you in turn may save them.

Be humble. There is no place for arrogance in our lives. There is no place for conceit. There is no place for egotism. We have a great work to do. We have things to accomplish. We have needed and may still need direction in the pursuit of our education. If we are without conceit and pride and arrogance, if we are humble and obedient to wise counsel and the law of the land we should find ourselves without covetousness and content with that which our own hands have yielded.

Be true. Said Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man” (Hamlet, I, iii, 78–81). You each have a tremendous legacy. Whether you have continued the tradition of education in your family, or you are the first to graduate, you have held to the truth that education is important and at the very least begun a legacy of higher education for your family, friends, peers, co-workers, spouse, and children. Be true to your own convictions. You know what is right, and you know what is wrong. You know when you are doing the proper thing. You know when you are giving strength to the right cause. Be loyal. Be faithful. Be true, my valued associates.

Be humble. There is no place for arrogance in our lives. There is no place for conceit. There is no place for egotism. We have a great work to do. We have things to accomplish. We have needed and may still need direction in the pursuit of our education. If we are without conceit and pride and arrogance, if we are humble and obedient to wise counsel and the law of the land we should find ourselves without covetousness and content with that which our own hands have yielded.

As we step into tomorrow, let us take the knowledge we’ve accumulated and create those switch points for ourselves and mankind that will benefit our communities, our neighbors, our families, and our children. Let us be smart with our knowledge, clean with our intellect, true to our selves, and humble with those things with which we have been blessed.

Dianna Adams graduated Cum Laude with a degree in literary studies. She is President of the Brazilian Capoeira Club, a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

She is also a certified martial arts instructor, a Jazzercise instructor, and performed in the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Following graduation, she and her husband will continue operating their business, Dallas Capoeira.