To the class of 2017, Congratulations! You have logged thousands of hours of class and study time to earn the piece of parchment in your hand. It is a serious accomplishment, take a moment and savor this – it took you years to get here. Now, time to grapple with a question you probably haven’t asked yourself yet: “where are you going put it?”
Whether you decide to put it on a wall or keep it as a mental visual, I want to encourage how to think about your diploma – let it represent a step, not a summit. Without question, getting to graduation is a destination, and be grateful you did it, and be appreciative of those that enabled you to get there (think parents, teachers and classmates). Though graduation day may feel like a finish line (it certainly did for me!), embrace it as a starting line for the new summits that await you. These obstacles cannot be climbed without the tools you have learned over the last few years. The folks that helped you get here are counting on you to use those instruments to conquer much bigger steps than the five steps up to the graduation platform.
Don’t be the person that lets everyone know within seconds where you graduated from – be the person that becomes recognized for what they have done to help others. Be the person that never stops learning. Be the person that keeps that piece of parchment in perspective; it does not define you; it is what you do with it that defines you.
Oh, and about the answer to that question on where to put it – I would say about waist high lower left side of a blank wall. Why, do you ask? So you can fill in the rest of the wall with your memories and accomplishments that will come from you putting your new learned tools to work. Get ready, class of 2017, we and all who live in this world welcome you with open arms. We have got some problems to solve, and you can help us solve them. Roll up those sleeves and let’s get to work!
(This is an abridged version of a commencement speech I gave last year to Case Western Reserve University’s Graduate Program of Anesthesiology.)
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.