No matter how many times I tell myself that I will not write another sappy column reminiscing about my school days, I cannot resist penning this piece about graduation.
I don’t know if it is the smell of flower leis or newly-pressed polyester gowns that triggers my yearly graduation flashbacks, but they are sweet reminders of a time when victory tasted sweet and unabashed hope for the future tasted even sweeter.
High school graduation for me — and for most young adults — was all about living in that moment of time when the crossroads of one’s life is a concrete reality rather than a quaint euphemism for change. Being a graduating senior means making some of the first adult decisions of your life, while at the same time clinging to childhood as best you can with a series of parties, scavenger hunts and all-night events that aim to ease the transitional pain.
While romanticizing high school graduation and the kinetic potential of young people is all fine and dandy, some may say, what about the hard times these high school graduates are facing?
The promise of higher education for every Californian who wants it is becoming more of an ideal than a reality. Community colleges are overflowing with students while at the same time cutting back the number of courses offered. State colleges and universities are turning record numbers of students away, many with 3.5 to 4.0 grade point averages.
A large number of young people are being faced with either trying to land a job with an 18.3 percent unemployment rate in Stanislaus County while waiting to be accepted into college, or joining the military — a scary thought for families when the United States is fighting two wars that see ever rising casualties.
These hard facts are the reality we all live in today. But, as Americans, we have faced tougher times. And in those times youths still graduated from school and went about changing the world. This pessimism that has settled over the country in the past few years should not ever be allowed to reach the ones most capable of bringing about lifesaving change — our young adults.
These new graduates are our continual hope for a better future. They bring with them into the world of academia and the workforce new ideas and fresh perspectives that are critical to lasting prosperity. In fact, I believe the graduates of 2010 will have a better appreciation for the rewards in life because they will have had to work much harder than the Generation X and Yers that came before them.
The extremely competitive academic and working world we now find ourselves in will produce the next great entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and artists. Throughout history we have seen that through hardship come the brightest leaders.
So while running errands this week if you happen to come across a group of giggling, bright-eyed graduates, smile and wish them luck. They are our greatest hope for a better tomorrow.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.