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Riley's Ramblings - Sitting At Graduation
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May 16, 2012

In a few days I will participate in the graduation of the Ursuline Class of 2012. I have been doing this since I started teaching in 1969 which means that I have participated in 44 high school and 30 college graduations. I can’t tell you much about graduation speakers.  I don’t even remember most of their names, never mind what pearls of wisdom they had to offer the graduates. Instead most of my focus has been on the graduates themselves. I look at them as they cross the stage after their names are read. Some of them I knew very well; some I’ve had in class or served on a committee or activity with them; some I had never met.

As I sit there, I wonder at the sense of pride and sense of accomplishment they and their families feel at that moment. For some of them it has been a long and difficult road to earning a degree. For others it has been a happy time filled with success and happy times, but not without challenges. For all of them, this degree, this achievement opens up new doors and new opportunities. It sets them apart, in a class of their own, college graduates! They have appropriated new knowledge and ideas; they have mastered new skills and have developed new attitudes and values.

As I sit there watching the graduates walk across the stage, I will whisper a prayer for them and wonder. What will they do? Who will they become? Will they really care for the world around them? Will they remain faithful to their highest ideals? Will they pray and find in God a source of strength and hope and a place of refuge in times of trial and sorrow? Will they be kind and generous to the patients, students or clients under their care? Will they keep learning and remain open to new knowledge and vistas? Will they be successful? Will they remember their alma mater with kindness, pride and generous support? Will each of them become the kind of person we can look to with pride, knowing that he or she has taken  the three words, “Values Voice and Vision,” and made them live in their world?

The commencement exercises will end and the graduates will disperse and follow their dreams. We will begin in August with a new group of excited, unsure, timid and hopeful new recruits and once again we will work our “Ursuline magic” on another generation of students.