May 19, 2016
An Open Letter to the Class of 2016
You’ve done it. You’ve spent the majority of your life working toward this moment, and now the work has finally paid off. The time has come for you to file into line, march in formation, and wait in anticipation for your name to be called. You’ll likely hear inspiring words from speaker or two, and I encourage you to listen. They will challenge you, encourage you, and give you wise advice for the future. You’ll turn your tassel, throw your cap, and then you’ll be free!
Before you head off to celebrate, please hear me out.
What the speaker probably didn’t tell you is that your newfound freedom can be gone in an instant, and for some graduates it will only last for the night. They didn’t tell you that graduation day often requires you to make choices that have the ability to change the course of your life. One of the most common choices graduates are faced with is whether or not they will drink on graduation night. While it may seem like everyone is doing it, please believe me when I tell you that isn’t the case. In fact, studies show that the majority of you report not drinking alcohol at all. Graduation is a rite of passage, but I assure you that underage drinking is not. You don’t have to put your dreams, your opportunities, your health, or your life at risk to celebrate this achievement – how does that even make sense?
You’ve worked so hard to get here. You’ve laughed, you’ve cried, you’ve won, you’ve lost, and you made it. This accomplishment is a huge one, and so are the plans that you’ve already made - such as where you’ll attend college, which military branch you’ll serve in, where you will work, or who your roommate will be. From the moment you turn your tassel, your choices will affect all of those plans. Have a blast, make memories, take lots of pictures, celebrate, and stay sober. You’ll be grateful that you did, I promise.
Your Future Self