By Jackie White
Hello high school graduates, parents, teachers and distinguished guests. Did you ever notice at these things there are always distinguished guests? The truth is I haven’t been asked to speak at any convocation. Instead, I have elected myself to be your convocation speaker because I have been truly inspired by this class and I think under your leadership this world will bloom in ways it never has before.
Let’s be honest, you have been dealt a tough hand recently and the truth is that it sucks. You probably aren’t supposed to say that in one of these fancy speeches...but you know it’s true.
You have shown us all that guys rock! I mean seriously, no other class in the history of the world has had to weather a pandemic in the final days of their senior year! You have made us proud by taking the high road on this one. Not that you had a choice, but nevertheless, you have done it and you’ve done it with grace and surprising strength.
Social distancing and high school seniors is like suggesting that mixing oil and water together will go well. How could these two things go together? I know it was hard, but you guys (most of your guys) have done it! You have done it for others: You’ve done it for your family, your community and for the country. Wow! That is intelligence and compassion exemplified. Thank you for that! I know it wasn’t easy!
For many of you, your friends are moving away soon and you may not see them again. The constructs of high school life will never be again. It is sad. I’m sad and I am not in your shoes. However, I have respect for you like never before. I see a future generation who will be defined by this pandemic. I mean that in a good way.
The pandemic has brought sadness, but also hope that people will start living life in a better more compassionate way. I see that starting with the Class of 2020. I see your psyches being built right in front of my eyes. You have had to be flexible, accepting and masterful change managers. Most of you have done that in a very positive and creative way! I see innovation in staying connected and dedication to persisting in a quagmire of uncertainty!
I see heart. I see drive. I see persistence. I see awareness and maturity. I see the future to be laced with creativity and leaders who are compassionate, flexible and durable. This is the most hope I have seen for the future in years and I see it in your eyes.
I hope you find it to be wisdom. You have all this greatness going on for you right now. The doors of possibilities are wide open and you are about to walk through them. Here is what I want to tell you. Some of those doors will be labeled with the word Certainty. It might look like a good job that pays well and it will call you to take it. Other doors might say Follow in Your Parent’s Footsteps or Fulfill Your Parent’s Dreams. Another door might be marked Safe and here you will find the choices that don’t push you out of your comfort zone.
Then there might be a door flashing in the distance that is labeled with Follow Your Dreams. It might even feel like it’s calling your name. Sometimes people are afraid to open this door because it might not fit the plan of who you think you are supposed to be. I would assert that behind that door is exactly who you are supposed to be.
I recognize that sometimes a safe good paying job may need to support you through the door that says Follow Your Dreams and that is okay. The message here for you is to never lose sight of those dreams. I have met a lot of people who have let their dreams fall away and I am asking you to not do that. You will find happiness, meaning and purpose in those dreams. They reside in your soul and they are the reason you are here.
If the door to your dreams isn’t apparent, then open the door that says Curiosity. This door is always a great one to walk through because you will be trying out different possibilities offered to you. Keep this door open because as you get older, it tends to start to close. Being curious about the world and trying new things should never fall off your agenda in life.
I am so excited for all of you to open the doors to your possibilities in life. You are the generation who has an exceptional set of skills to navigate all the great challenges and opportunities before you!
Go forward and look for your doors! Make sure to follow your dreams and stay curious! I know I will be looking forward to seeing all you blossom and make your mark in the world!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.