I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since my high school graduation…and only a year until my college graduation! To say that time flies would be the understatement of the century. I struggled a bit with this topic since I am dying for some premature graduation advice myself, but I then thought of my brother who is graduating from high school in about three and a half weeks (I know that because I get to come home for his graduation!), so here are some pearls of [hopefully] wisdom for him:
You did it! You survived Choate, which is easier said than done. I remember moving you into your room in Mem just a few weeks before I started my senior year and I can’t believe you’re already about to graduate. The past four years, for both of us, have flown by.
On my first night at Fordham, all of the freshmen gathered on the lawn for a candle-lighting ceremony. We were each given a candle and the orientation leaders played a song from F.U.N called “We are Young.” It’s a little dated, but one line in the song says, “So I’ll set the world on fire” and they played it because Saint Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits) often said, “Go forth, and set the world on fire.” Hence, the candles held in our innocent little hands. He often said this because the mission of the Jesuit tradition is to spread God’s word through education and service. Religious beliefs aside, it’s some of the best wisdom I’ve ever received, which is why I’m sharing it with you.
College is the beginning of an adventure like you’ve never experienced before. I know you’ve lived away from home for the past four years, so you’re used to that kind of independence, but you will find that you have even more in September. You are in charge of your classes and social life, and while that may seem overwhelming, it is truly a blessing. This freedom gives you the opportunity to create your own life and your own path, whatever it may be. When Saint Ignatius said to “set the world on fire” he meant to do big, bold things in your life, regardless of the definition. You now get to not only discover your passions, but fuel them however you please. That is how you change the world — by throwing yourself into what you love and what makes you “tick.” You don’t have to know exactly what that is and it doesn’t have to necessarily be related to your “major.” Find your niche and build your life right there.
Take advantage of every opportunity, whether they be clubs, lectures, professors, trips, etc. Everyone and everything has something to teach you so soak it up and somewhere along the way, you’ll settle into a rhythm along a path that feels right at the moment. And that path can change because it’s your life, no one else’s. Make plans, and then change them, and enjoy the freedom you have now to do so. Everything will work out, I promise, and I’m always here for you.
So, go forth, and SET THE WORLD ON FIRE! I love you and am