To those anticipating their Graduation Day this week or next, congratulations and best wishes. Rejoice and celebrate, Class of 2013! And for those who have already had their 2013 Graduation Day, here's wishing you all the best in your future endeavors.
Congratulations and thanks are due also to all the teachers, mentors, instructors, professors and parents who have helped inculcate knowledge, skills and values, and who have inspired you to be whatever you want to be in life. Their leadership, professionalism, service, sacrifices, devotion and love have, undoubtedly, served as your role models in life.
As a former teacher/instructor and now parent of two young adult children who have had their graduation days (from elementary to college), I am proud of you, graduates of 2013.
I am very sure you and your caring-loving parents, relations, teachers and friends have been excited for and proud of what you have achieved so far in life.
You have done a gradual and incredible change to improve yourselves. You have challenged yourselves that you can do better. And you did it, one struggle after another, one hurdle at a time, one mistake and correction leading to success.
You have taken the risks, endured pressures from peers, parents, teachers, benchmarks, exams, Standards of Learning tests and more. But in the end, you emerged winners, because you have seen that spark of light leading you in the right direction, the straight path to life.
You found a meaning and purpose in your life, because you've tasted success and victory, after those moments that tempted you to give up. Now you have a reason to smile, rejoice and celebrate: You are a winner!
Graduation Day is another milestone in your life. However, it is just the beginning of a wonderful, challenging, and hopefully, successful life ahead of you. Now is the time to start to focus on the next chapter of your life.
What's next? Pursuing higher education? Finding a job? Taking a break for a while to ponder what to do next? Joining the military? That's up to you, graduate. Nothing is impossible, and no one can prevent you from going after your dream for as long as you're alive and well and have set sight on your bright future. No one can stop you now.
Remember that what you do in the future can impact your life, your family and the world at large. You are the catalysts of changes and reforms. The world needs you, is waiting for you to make it better, safer and more peaceful.
Adventurous, creative, imaginative and innovative as you are, you are our future.
Congratulations and best wishes!
-CHRIS A. QUILPA is a retired veteran from the U.S. Navy and long-time resident of Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Published in Suffolk News-Herald's Opinion page, Saturday, June 8, 2013. Visit their website at www.suffolknewsherald.com.