What do you say to a graduate? What to write in a graduation card? What are you really thinking during a graduation ceremony? Here are a few thoughts, gleaned from others and things I’ve heard over the years.
You can’t overuse this word at graduation time. Of course you loudly proclaim it to the graduate, especially the ones who may have struggled. But in most cases, graduation is a team sport. Numerous individuals deserve a pat on the back with a handshake and hug, including family, friends and educators who all played a role. Truth is, everyone should be speaking in plurals: “We graduate together.”
Graduation is a public celebration and acknowledgment of accomplishment and an opportunity to express ourselves. This may be one of the few moments bragging and boasting may be allowed without conceit.
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We’re proud of you. I knew you could do it.
Good work, you deserve it.
This ceremony is a rite of passage, the completion of one phase of life and starting the next journey – we all should begin our life’s adventure with “good luck” from all.
It’s all over, and it’s all beginning.
This may be one time you can offer some advice and it will be tolerated, perhaps even accepted. Graduation is a milestone, marking an achievement. But separate the celebration from the reflection. Cheer with loud voices, high fives and hugs. Make profound statements later, when the reality sinks in and the true meaning of the accomplishment is felt and recognized.
Education is valuable but remember, there are many, many things worth knowing that can’t be taught.
Life is like school; we hope you’ll continue to learn and earn honors.
I probably think too much, yet putting life in context is important to me. We can honor where we have been and celebrate where we’re going. So to all you graduates and their families, supporters and friends: Enjoy the moment.
Graduation is a moment between believing you know everything and finding out you have much to learn.
Jobs and money
Sooner or later, the topic of work or money will be brought up during graduation season. This is a time to be philosophical. Realize every generation complained about the money it takes to graduate, but most people agree that those who graduate will make a whole lot more money than those who don’t.
We spent a lot of money on your education; are you smart enough to figure out how to pay it back?
Congratulations on receiving a piece of paper with crushing student loan debt.
Graduation is a time for family to be family. It’s a time for absolute love between family members and to show love. Generations will respond differently, as they should. A few decades ago, finishing high school was an accomplishment and now college is part of a new dream. Celebrate collectively as a family.
You may be finished with school, but you are not finished being our son/daughter. We will always be family.
Welcome to the real world – now find a career you love and make a good living with good acts.
Finally, congratulations to graduates and their families and community. This means a lot to a Valley we all call home. With each graduate, we all benefit from a rising tide.
Good luck – you’ve just graduated to more responsibility.
Now that you’ve graduated, the important thing is to never stop questioning or learning.
David Mas Masumoto is an organic farmer near Fresno and award-winning author of books, including “Epitaph for a Peach” and “Wisdom of the Last Farmer.”