’Tis the season for graduations, then there’s the rest of your life

Published 2:58 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Genie and I went to the graduation of the daughter of a friend Saturday.

Michael was most proud, as he should have been for Sarah is now Dr. Sarah. She graduated with her M.D. from the Louisiana State University medical school. Now she moves on the state of Washington where she will go through an internship in internal medicine.

This was the second graduation we had gone to in recent weeks. The first was of our daughter-in-law Michelle, who is now on her way to medical school at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Right now, though, she is in Argentina where she is shadowing some doctors in Buenos Aires and learning Spanish in an “immersion school” where you learn a language by speaking nothing else. I don’t think there is a formal graduation there.

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Graduations at all levels are taking place right now. Colleges are handing out the degrees that their students have earned. High schools are handing out diplomas. Pre-schools, kindergartens and other such places are handing out their certificates. It is a most important time of the year for the young, and for some of the not so young, according to various news stories that have moved about senior citizens also earning degrees at various levels.

It is perhaps fitting that most graduations occur in the spring for that is a time of renewal and growth, a sign of new beginnings. From this point, the graduates move on to other stages of their lives. I started to say to “other, more important stages of their lives,” but I caught myself.

Every stage of life is important and learning is a never ending process, as many are beginning to recognize. Today, even formal learning does not end with the awarding of a diploma or a degree that the recipient may consider “terminal,” as in the final one they will seek. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants and practitioners of many other professions now have to return to the classroom periodically to be updated in the changes in their professions, because learning never ceases. By that I mean that researchers are constantly discovering — learning — new information, techniques and so forth in various fields that must be passed on for the practitioners in the fields to use.

Those who have graduated need to be prepared for this on-going process, because any more it’s not just doctors and lawyers and teachers and such that must go on to some form of continuing education. Technology is changing so rapidly these days that jobs are changing constantly. Government and business groups are now urging people in all types of jobs and at all levels of society to continue with their education. Some schools, especially the two-year colleges have been gearing up for years to meet the demand to up-grade workers in their chosen fields.

Those who decide on a military career, thinking that they may escape further days in the classroom should think again. Military fields these days especially are almost constant schools. Some of the classes are what might be called “in-house” in that everyone in a unit goes through the training at the same time. Others are detached schools specializing in specific aspects of a military field. A little word of advice here — if you go to a detached specialized school, get your civilian certificate, if one is available. Without that certificate, you might have to repeat the training when you leave the military and then it costs you a lot of money.

Back to graduations, though, this is a wonderful time of year. Picayune Memorial High School, Pearl River Central High School, Poplarville High School and Hancock High School all are turning out graduates in the next several days, young people who will now, either with the help of further formal education or by entering the work force, will now go on to make their mark on the world.

The graduation speaker at the LSU Health Sciences School in New Orleans, Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni, had some most important words to say on that subject. He told the graduates that a life has meaning only when the person possessing that life touches another, or others, in ways that make a positive difference in their life or lives. He reminded, from the height an age of 80 plus years, that each person possesses his or her own life for a very short time in the span of time and that the length of the memory of an individual beyond the end of that life in those who come after is measured by how they have made a difference in the lives of those they find during their lifetimes that touch in positive ways.

Dr. Dugoni put it much better than I have, but his message was spellbinding to me. I hope it was to others who heard it.

Have a good life.