A note to recent grads: Always learn, always teach

By Judith Roberts, publisher

Over the years, I’ve been to countless graduations — my own, my husband’s, my friends, and all the ones I have covered over the years. Most of the time, graduation speakers echo similar sentiments: be thankful for the education you received; remember, you didn’t get here without help; give back to your community. I wholeheartedly agree. I would not have received my diplomas without help from family, teachers and friends. I am overwhelmed frequently by my education and from the knowledge my teachers and professors imparted to me. And I very much want to help our community and teach that sense of service to my children.

But that leads me to my main point for this column — learning and teaching don’t end in a classroom.

If I could impart any of my limited wisdom to graduates, it would be to cultivate lifelong learning and teach others what you know. Your education didn’t end when you earned your degree; it just got started.

I would hate to think that I quit learning when my doctorate professor hooded me in 2013. In fact, I think the most I gained during my years as what I liked to call as my “professional student” time is how to learn. We have an immense amount of knowledge at our fingertips. And yes, while there is definitely a time and place for TikTok (which my husband refers to as “digital potato chips”), there is also a time to expand our knowledge. 

And as you’re learning and growing every day (because, yes, learning should occur daily), share that knowledge with others. I heard years ago that you should always have an older person mentoring you and you should always be mentoring someone younger than you. Who are you helping? Who is helping you? What can you learn from that person? What can someone learn from you?

One last word of caution from someone who has experienced a few extra decades of life than most of our recent graduates — don’t agree 100 percent with anyone either. No one is perfect. You should never agree with someone completely; you’re not thinking for yourself if that’s the case. My husband and I get along really well, and we generally agree on most things — but not all of them. And that’s okay. You can disagree with someone and still like that person, still get along.

Your education is just beginning. Don’t let it stay just with you.

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