Last week, thousands of students at Brigham Young University started a new chapter in their lives as they walked across the stage, shook hands with faculty and professors and took their first steps as graduates.
Today even more will don their cap and gowns at Utah Valley University as the 2019 class of Wolverines embark on their lives as college graduates.
The lyrics of the commencement anthem, “Pomp and Circumstance” (yes, there are lyrics to “Pomp and Circumstance”), alludes to soldiers marching into war. While we don’t expect all of the 2019 graduating class to embark on literal war service, we do wish to offer some words of advice to those who are about to march off into the battlefield of life.
Contribute to your community
It’s surprising how much time coursework and projects consume out of the typical college student’s life. A recent study by the National Survey of Student Engagement found that the average college student invests 17 hours each week studying for classes, nearly two and a half hours each day. This is done on top of the hours of lecture and lab times each week, part-time jobs, student clubs and community service.
It can be easy for new graduates to fall into a lull of lowered productivity without the expectation of term papers and economics quizzes. In fact, we encourage students to take some time off after graduation. Go experience the beauty of Utah that you may not have seen in the years you’ve been here gaining an education. Find a new hobby to occupy part of that time once invested in remembering the difference between an arithmetic and geometric average.
But once your celebrations have ended and real life has set in, take the time to be a contributor to your community. A prevailing criticism of the younger generations — millennials and Generation Z — is a perceived lack of civic and community engagement. Buck that trend. Prove them wrong.
Whether engagement to you means community service, political involvement or contributing to local businesses, be a supporter of your community, even if that community isn’t Utah County. So many UVU and BYU graduates make up local, political and corporate leadership around this state and others. We hope that BYU and UVU graduates continue that trend, becoming pillars of their communities as distinguished and respectable alumni.
Remember where you came from
It’s easy to give professors a quick handshake and farewell after walking across the stage at convocation ceremonies. It’s more difficult, yet more rewarding, to maintain connections with mentors, peers and other colleagues as you enter your professional development.
The connections and networks developed in college will be invaluable in the future, whether it be for career advice, employment opportunities or an empathetic ear when the rigors of the job seem to be beyond your capacity. And after keeping those networks open, be willing and eager to develop new connections to those in your community and your career field.
Iron or steam your gown
This should be a no-brainer, but as you mark one of the most important days in your life, make a point to be presentable. Nothing detracts more from a convocation ceremony than bright spotlights highlighting every last wrinkle on your gown. UVU graduates, in case you didn’t read the Daily Herald article this week, steam your gown, since the gown is made of recycled plastic and we’d hate for your gowns to melt.
This advice also carries onto professional careers. Whatever profession you choose, whether it be in the service industries, in which a uniform with an ill-fitting vest is required, or a desk job that requires a tie for men and skirt for women, present yourself in a way that shows you are proud of yourself, your career and your employment.
We congratulate the class of 2019 on this remarkable achievement. We wish the best to all graduates as they end a chapter of life while commencing a new one. Whatever you do, we hope that you do it well as representatives of excellent institutions and of Utah Valley.