Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wear Sunscreen

May has rolled around again, and it is time for the Class of 2010 to head out into the world and tackle the next adventure in life. This past weekend, I attended my youngest brother's commencement ceremonies with all of my family (alumni of six Inter/National organizations are represented in this picture!). As the baby of family, this was a day my parents have been anticipating for years. Congratulations on your big raise Mom and Dad!

This particular ceremony was a bit on the longer side, so between the games of Brick-Breaker and Words with Friends, and of course a little bit of obligatory FBing, my other siblings and I had some time to chat and catch up on life. One of the questions posed was "If you were giving the commencement speech, what would you say?". Good question! We joked about wearing sunscreen (does that date me?) and a few other ideas, and then went back to paying attention to the never-ending parade of graduates crossing the stage.

Over the course of the past few days, I've reflected a bit more on the pomp and circumstance of graduation weekend, the words and challenges shared with the graduates in the commencement addresses (perhaps just one would make the ceremony shorter?), and the opportunity that lies in front of us as fraternity men and sorority women. How many young alumni are we turning out into the world this year? What impact will their undergraduate involvement have on their future life experiences? How will they help to shape the future of our fraternal organizations and the potential we have to make change in our world? How have our institutions and organizations aided in preparing them for this day? What tools have we provided? If I may, I have a few pieces of advice for our new graduates:

* Stay connected! These days, it is easier than ever to be in touch with your undergraduate chapter, local alumni chapters, and your broader organization. Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and sign up for any listservs or electronic communication that are available. Keep your address up to date to receive information about local events and opportunities.

* Volunteer! Did your organzation support a cause that spoke to you in a particular way? Get involved! Financial resources might be tight at this point in your life, but you can probably scrounge up an extra hour or two to dedicate to a good cause.

* Mentor others! Have you landed a great job as a result of connections or networks you were a part of? Now it is time for you to return the favor. Assist undergraduate brothers or sisters with internship opportunities, opportunities for networking, and career-related events.

* Meet new friends! If you are moving to a new city, find out if there is a local alumni group already established. If there isn't, work with your organization to reach out to those in the area. Don't be afraid to interact with other generations - there will be value in the interaction! Sometimes we forget that our organization exists beyond our campus - I promise there are lots of other great individuals out there to meet.

* Live your values! Make us proud of you, your accomplishments, and all you will go on to achieve in life. Remember that you are "always wearing your letters" even though you are no longer an active member of an undergraduate chapter.

* Don't be that guy (or girl)! You all know who I am talking about here. Don't go back to visit your chapter and buy booze for the freshman. It might seem cool at the time, but it isn't. Certainly do not participate in any activities that are harmful or hazardous to health (and challenge/report those that are!). Don't attend every single social event next year. Don't use the words "we always did it this way" or "that will never work". Let others lead. You might even learn something.

In addition to always wearing your suncreen, go out into the world and celebrate your achievements. Remember that your journey has only just begun. Take advantage of opportunities to engage with your organization at various stages in your life, and share your involvement with others. We look forward to seeing what the class of 2010 can accomplish as you pick up that diploma, pack up your bags, and set out to embody the values of your organization and show them to the world. Congratulations!

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