We are in the graduation season; high school, college and even kindergarten, elementary & middle school.  This is a time that families are so excited because “the student” their Beloved one is graduating.

Graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime event that is captured in our minds forever.  It is the ceremony of conferring degrees, diplomas or certificates to a student who has completed requirements.  It is an event full of joy because someone would have persisted to completion. It is you. You have studied, made the acceptable grades, submitted that last paper, presented your thesis or defended your dissertation, now what? Are you ready for the world? Are you prepared to implement your theoretical learning with the practical and functional ways of the world, to succeed, including further study?

As an educator, it is important to me that our children can read, write and do “arithmetic” during their matriculation from pre-school through high school, and perform at a high level.  They should be well-rounded individuals academically, socially and culturally.

Therefore, as we enter this graduation season, and share in the joy of completion, did we prepare our students “well,” and are our students “well” prepared? In K-11, are they prepared for the next grade? In  high school, is this student ready for the high school senior year?  In college, is this student, earning his or her bachelor’s degree, ready for graduate school or the work world?  In graduate and professional school, is the student ready for the world based on their training and educational activities.

My point is that education reveals its success during graduation period. We celebrate the moments during the ceremony, and the question is, now that you have graduated, what’s next?

I recently heard of a story with a Next Steps at Vanderbilt student.  The Next Steps program is a 2-year inclusive higher education program committed to providing students with intellectual disabilities inclusive, social and career development and independent living, while honoring equality, compassion and excellence in all endeavors.  The student who was the graduation speaker, has served as an intern in a government agency for the last three months.  During his speech, he proudly announced he had been offered a job at the agency. The audience wildly applauded his total success.

How many students graduating from colleges and universities will be able to brag about their employment after graduation?  I hope there will be many, I suspect there may not be that many.

I congratulate all the graduates from TSU, Fisk, Belmont, Vanderbilt, American Baptist College, Lipscomb, Trevecca and all of our area colleges and universities.  I salute the high school students,  pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle school graduates, for their success.  My advice is to continue to persist for success, do not settle for mediocrity and know that failure is not an option. Continued success.

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