Donahoe Kearney - June 2020


June 2020


With the start of June, most students are now officially starting summer break, even if it doesn’t seem much different than the last couple of months. Normally graduation season would be in full swing. I know a lot of parents are disappointed that their kids won’t be in a graduation ceremony. If I had a grad this year, then I would be too. Let’s face it, it’s always about us parents — our parties, our graduates, our memories. Someone asked me recently whether I had any advice for students graduating this year, and whether it was different because of the coronavirus. As someone who has been through that stage of life, I know those ceremonies and parties are only a small part of what’s actually worth getting excited about. Even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, you can still seize new opportunities and make the most of your transition to the next chapter of your life. Look, the last few months have given you a rare and valuable opportunity to see and imagine a whole new way of doing things; how people react to difficult times; how people work together to help others; how people value community, health, freedom; and of course, what we can control and what we can’t. Graduation is a fresh start. I can remember my high school graduation and the excitement I felt about really starting my life. I told myself that I would make the most out of college. I wasn’t going to a fancy top-ranked school, but I was determined to make the most of it. I felt that same excitement when I graduated from college and law school, but it was nothing like that first graduation. I was moving into a world full of new possibilities. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t nervous about my next steps — though I can understand why a lot of graduates would be. Even though I had a lot of confidence, I still didn’t know exactly where I was going in life. I can relate to a lot of graduates in that regard. While I had a general vision of what I wanted my life to eventually be like, I didn’t have every step of it planned out when I was 18, or even when I was 22. All I knew was that I was going to make the most out of any opportunity that came my way.

So take the opportunity to be in charge of your own education. No one has to tell you how to think or what you should do. Think about it. With the amount of information and technology we have now, why can’t you take a class you’re interested in held anywhere in the world? Better yet, why can’t you teach a class or coach or tutor someone? I guarantee there is someone out there who would love to know what you know. Don’t be afraid to try new things, take calculated risks, or do things that are hard. Sometimes that means you have to trust your gut. I took two years of Russian in college in case I decided to go into military intelligence (I ended up infantry, where I barely needed English). And we went from copying Russian alphabet letters to reading Tolstoy in his native language. After the first year, I was the only one left in the class. After the second year, no one was left. Of course, the Cold War ended soon after that, and I haven’t used Russian since I took those classes. But that’s okay. It’s all part of discovering the path before you. In a way, because of the uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, some of you reading this might feel like a new graduate. You might be unsure about your next steps or maybe excited for a future that looks different than it did a few months ago.

My advice? Go for it.

-Frank Kearney

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