June 04, 2016

Commencement Ceremony (in a Small Town)

Graduation Time 

Last night was my first Commencement Ceremony as the principal/superintendent at Vanderbilt. I always enjoy watching the excitement and relief on the faces of so many people on the special day. I also like having a chance to say a few words. I talked for about three minutes on a few thoughts last night.

In the next several years as you enter your twenties, you will encounter many situations that require you to make a choice. Those choices help define you. It’s difficult for me to talk to a group without including baseball in some way. And I think it’s fitting that Yogi Berra said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." In the next several years, you are sure to encounter many forks.

That quote from Yogi Berra is one of the best lines I can think of to share with graduates. Apparently, it must be a good line because our guest speaker, Mr. Stu Clark, referenced it as well. As he neared conclusion, he said, "I know that I'm supposed to end this with a profound quote from someone famous. So I will." Then he mentioned Yogi Berra and I knew what was forthcoming.

I went ahead and kept the quote in my speech, though, because I think it's so key for young men and women as they enter their twenties. In your twenties you encounter more "forks" than you do as you continue to age — and it happens quickly, by the way. I believe that making the right choices for oneself is key to developing into who you become.

I'd never met Mr. Clark before. He was a longtime teacher and AD at Vanderbilt. But with references to baseball and some of the other ideas in his "13 steps," I think we could easily be on the same page. Congratulations once again to the Class of 2016. It may have been a small class but it's a great group.

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