An Open Letter to the Class of 2012

Do more than just believe in your dreams. 

Believe also in the greatness that lies in you to fulfill your dreams.

Dear Graduate,

Congratulations on your graduation!  As I pen this letter to you, I am mindful that if your high school experience was anything like mine, you are a different person today than you were when starting the 9th grade.

This next stage of life will be both exciting, and scary.  Life after high school brings many changes and you will begin to ask yourself: What am I really going to be doing for the rest of my life?  Will I keep the same friends?  Will I drink?  Will I meet the person I am going to marry?  Will I join a fraternity or sorority?

As you read this, you may believe that you have all of these things figured out already.  That’s fine.  Just don’t be surprised if things don’t go as you planned.  This is a special moment in your life.  Don’t just focus on the destination, but enjoy the journey.

In retrospect, you have seen the highs and lows of our nation’s history; from observing the election of the first African-American President, to witnessing the outcry and tragedy of one of your peers, Trayvon Martin.

At this moment I encourage you to celebrate and enjoy the recognition you’ve so rightfully earned.  However, as my dear mentor Dr. John H. Jackson would say, “This is not a touchdown, but a first down!”  College life may result in you changing your major a few times, or generating some credit card debt if you aren’t wise with your spending.

Maybe you aren’t going straight to college, and you have other plans, to fulfill a dream of yours.

Though I don’t know each and every one of you individually, maybe at this tender age you are raising a child; and your college experience and what you choose to do for the rest of your life will be to ensure that your child is afforded the same opportunities, if not more, than you were afforded.

As a high school graduate you are one step closer to fulfilling your dreams.  However, I encourage you to do more than just believe in your dreams.  Believe also in the greatness that lies in you to fulfill your dreams.  Believe in yourself!

This will not only ensure success – but also significance!

We are living today, during a point and time in our nation’s history, where the financial state and the economic security of our people stand in peril.  People are hurting today like never before.  Yet, many of us continue to equate success with money, fancy clothes, big titles, nice cars, and being famous or popular.  Today success is portrayed as strictly material.

When speaking to group of students, not too long ago, President Obama offered a few comments in reference to how our world defines success.  He stated, “Your appearance should never outweigh your substance, and your celebrity should never outweigh your character.”

Substance and character aren’t something you can find in a shopping mall or in your paycheck, for that matter.  These will be found deep within your soul; and it will show through your heart and your habits.

I’m writing this letter to you as a retired teenager.  Speaking from experience, I want you to know that the potential that is before you is something that you can’t even begin to imagine.

The beauty of potential is that you don’t have to be the most popular, the prettiest, the coolest, or the smartest.  However, all you have to do is believe in yourself, and have faith that you were born to do something special.  Born to be significant!

Wherever the path my lead you after high school, make sure that you are a shining example for yourself, your family, and your community.

In our global economy, you are now competing against the world.  You are no longer competing with Johnny that lives across the street from you, or Sarah that went to the high school across town, or Jimmy that had your math class.  You are competing against the world!

Not the competition that you may be thinking of, either.  This isn’t someone trying to take your girlfriend or boyfriend.  It is no longer beating your friend in the video game, or wearing the best outfit at a party, or anything else like that.  This competition could very well be for an internship, a job, a career – for your life!

As I close, allow me to leave you with one challenge.  Well, two: Get a mentor, and become a mentor.  Having a mentor of your own allows you to take a peek into the future before you arrive in it.  Furthermore, becoming a mentor is the only way to tell your story to a world that you won’t live to see.  This is the truest, purest, and most productive way to leave your fingerprints on this world.  The world is waiting on you.

Congratulations Class of 2012, and may God bless you.

In belief,
David McGhee
Flint, MI

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Class of 2012”

  1. Love this and will be sending to some class of 2008, ’09, ’10 and ’11 Grads as well! Great comments David!

    “Believe also in the greatness that lies in you to fulfill your dreams. Believe in yourself!

    This will not only ensure success – but also significance!”

    Remember those words Graduates! And Congrats!

  2. David – can’t tell you how PROUD I am that you have assumed this role in life, the role of “passing the baton” to the next generation! Your advice AND insight are exceptional, and I pray that this message gets to the right people at the RIGHT TIME!
    Keep it coming, stay STRONG, and God bless you for “giving back” to your community!

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