It’s cap and gown season in Laramie as people walk away from educational institutions with degrees in hand. Whether it’s graduating from high school, college or any other level of attainment, we should be proud of those in the community for their accomplishments. It takes remarkable resolve to complete educational programs, and it truly gives people a leg-up in life. There are certainly still challenges — having a degree isn’t a golden ticket to success in itself — but having a great education as provided in Wyoming is powerful and positive.
Home to the state’s only university, Laramie is Wyoming’s center of education. That makes graduations a celebration of what this town is all about. That feeling of accomplishment that the graduates and their loved ones enjoy is also felt by teachers, instructors, faculty and staff members as they take pride in doing their jobs.
With all the hubbub surrounding graduations, those of us who have degrees sometimes reflect on what we wish we could have told our younger selves on our own graduation days.
Financial security is important — no doubt. Being able to support our lifestyles on our own helps us live less stress-filled lives. But be wary of spending your life solely focused on financial gain, as it will distract you from what’s really important. Don’t accept a job you hate going to every day. You don’t have to love every minute of it, but you should come away with the feeling that you’re making a positive contribution.
Enjoy yourself and take risks. Go on that vacation, go to that concert, take that hike, throw parties for your friends. Living responsibly is a priority, of course, but make sure to take chances, because there’s nothing worse than reflecting on what you wish you would have done when you had the opportunity. Young or old, do things that make you laugh and cry and feel inspired. Never stop learning, either. There’s so much to be known and so many skills we can learn that you’ll never run out of ways to enrich your understanding of the world.
Don’t neglect your human connections. Whether it’s friends or family, stay in touch frequently with the people who make your heart sing. Talk to your older loved ones and ask about their lives, because you’ll regret not doing so when they’re gone. Always remember that making other people happy will make you happy. Humans are social creatures, and the people in our lives (and, of course, our pets) are what make it worth the journey. Be involved in your community. Whether you engage with people through art, service, faith, hobbies, whatever it may be — you’ll find a richer experience and a deeper connection to the place you reside.
Pain and regret are always going to pop up in our lives. It’s just part of the human condition to suffer. But the only bad way to respond is to let those feelings rule our lives and not learn from our experiences. Almost anything is redeemable, and those moments that don’t feel good are blips in the course of our years on this earth.
The members of this board, your fellow community members and your state are proud of what you’ve accomplished, graduates. This is, however, only another step into a whole new chapter where you’ll help build communities. Make a lasting impression wherever you go — we’re all capable of doing so in our own unique ways.
Speaking of contributions to our society, we’d be remiss if we did not acknowledge our reverence for Memorial Day on Monday. We will be reflecting on our appreciation for service men and women, especially those who gave up their lives for their country. People can debate the merits of one conflict or another, but war continues today to be an inextricable part of civilization. Maybe someday humans will be able to look back on war as a thing of the past, but that’s unlikely in any of our lifetimes. As such, we honor those who have fallen in the course of military duty in the highest regard. Everyone in Laramie, Albany County and Wyoming should take time to reflect on that sacrifice.