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It’s graduation season and if there’s one thing that’s synonymous with commencement ceremonies, it’s lots of advice. Commencement speakers love to share timeless wisdom such as, make your bed every morning or never hit the snooze button. I would certainly never give advice I don’t try to follow myself (hence why I wouldn’t give anyone the aforementioned advice!)

Yet, on the eve of my oldest son’s high school graduation, I have been reflecting a lot on all the things I want to say as he launches into this new phase of life. But the truth is, though I am apt to dole out advice to graduates, some of the advice I share here are reminders that I need regularly as well:

  • Your worth is not defined by the college you attend, how much money you make, or the job title you hold. Your worth is defined by God alone and the ultimate prize is heaven.
  • Study hard in school, work hard at your job and in your classes but above all, be a student of life. Your biggest lessons won’t be learned inside a classroom, but in the school of life.
  • Don’t lose sight of the person God made you to be. What are the talents God gave you that help make you unique? Ask God to help show you how you can use these talents to serve others to help you discover your vocation.
  • Make wise choices. Tap into those gifts of the Holy Spirit that you were given at Confirmation to help guide and inspire your choices. And if you make a poor choice (you will!), get back up and try again. You don't always choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you react to it.
  • We live in a culture of entitlement, but nothing is deserved in this life. Anything that is freely given is a gift from God who loves you as His beloved child and gives you all good things, unmerited, that you might come to know Him better.
  • If you ever question or stray from the faith, go back to basics. Ask questions but look for the answers. Read the Bible. Pick up the Catechism. And ask God to multiply your faith.
  • Choose friends who help you get closer to heaven. Look to the saints as well. They are our friends in heaven and learning how they lived their lives can help us in our own walk toward happiness and holiness.
  • Remember the words of St. John Paul II: “It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you...”
  • Strive for the narrow road. Don’t get swept up in the wave of mediocrity.
  • Speak up when you see injustice. Don’t just think that someone else will do it. You might be the one God is calling to give voice to the voiceless.
  • Listen. Process. Think before speaking. Use common sense. Be flexible.
  • Be kind and charitable. Extend mercy and forgiveness to others. Everyone is bearing their own crosses.
  • You don’t have it all figured out right now (contrary to what you might think!) And you’re not going to have life all figured out when you’re in college either. Nor 5 years later. Nor 20 years later. Nor 40 years later. We continue growing and learning.
  • Be patient with your parents. We are leaning to let go and learning to parent young adult children. We will get it wrong sometimes. You will get frustrated - so will we. But we are trying and will always be here to love you, pray for you, challenge you and support you.

You don’t have to follow my advice. But, my beloved son, my goddaughter, and all graduates: I do encourage you to follow Jesus. 

Comments from readers

Dolores Hanley McDiarmid - 05/31/2024 08:19 AM
Dear Angelique, Thank you for your words of wisdom so beautifully stated. No matter what our age we can benefit from your reminders to help us move forward on the path towards heaven. I will be sharing your reminders with several people in my life. Blessings and congratulations! Dolores
Gabriel Cabrera - 05/29/2024 08:09 PM
Angelique gracias por compartir este mensaje con todos nosotros. Felicidades!
Liz Lantigua - 05/28/2024 10:28 PM
Congrats to the whole family on your son�s graduation. Best advice ever! To graduates, save this article and read it often.
Marta Rosa Trujillo - 05/28/2024 09:25 PM
Well said!
Lucy Moas - 05/28/2024 06:06 PM
Beautiful, Angelique. Good reminders. Congratulations on your son�s graduation!
Ana Rodriguez-Soto - 05/28/2024 09:14 AM
Bravo, Angelique! Excellent "commencement" advice for those beginning this new phase of their young life; and a great reminder for the rest of us still learning our way through life. Congratulations to your oldest and may God bless his journey through college and beyond.

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