Graduation Day and Hope

My 22-year-old daughter, Ella, recently got her first full-time job. Of course my husband and I, Proud Parents, are excited. When I posted the news on Facebook, it received almost 80 “likes” in a 24-hour period, the biggest response I’ve ever had on social media.

Youth and inspiration.  Hope and possibility.

Ella seemed perplexed at my delight and the tears in my eyes when I showed her the response. She hasn’t yet even finished the paperwork, not yet set foot in the office. I explained that my friends, most of whom are in their 40s, 50s and 60s, love to see and encourage youth. To see our children and their friends succeed, make good, pursue excellence, contribute to the world.

Ethel Percy Andrus, an educator and the first woman high school principal in California, said: “The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” I guess my friends like to see the essential ingredient. Life being lived. We like to know there is more to come. Life is constantly renewing itself, over and over and over again.

And we like to be reminded that we still have a lot to give. We’re here, vital, alive, participating!  It is the same thing watching people graduate. There is so much wriggling potential sitting there in one concentrated spot. So many caterpillars ready to unfold their wings . . .

At Ella’s graduation in May, Barbara Walters, well-known journalist and Sarah Lawrence alum, made a surprise visit. At age 84, having recently retired, Walters gave her writings, tapes, interviews of heads of state, etc. to the college. She created quite a buzz, so much so that the keynote speaker, Fareed Zakaria, joked he would be remembered as “that guy who spoke after Barbara Walters.” In truth, Zakaria gave a rousing speech about possibility and energy and creative thinking. We were on the edge of our seats. My Aunt, who graduated from Sarah Lawrence the year I was born (1960), was particularly pleased to feel the excitement of fresh beginnings.

At first I told everyone that this was Ella’s first “real” job. She politely pointed out to me that actually all her other freelance jobs and internships throughout college and before have been real as well. I can see that now. And, she is stepping out in a different way. Hope surrounds her, protecting her with the breath of all of those parents who have let go of their children’s bike seats and handle bars on that first ride down the driveway. “You’re doing it, you’re doing it!”

I can feel my excitement as my daughter flies. Ella’s job gives her health benefits, a desk, a computer and maybe even a phone line. But best of all, her job gives to others. is a website that tells the stories of women who have shaped the world over the past 50 years. Ella will help get their stories out and coordinate with other media sites to spread the inspiration.

I feel the undercurrent of excitement of all the parents, friends and students during this time in June, 2014. The culture of throwing caps in the air translates to a larger hope for the world.

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. As I sit here in Ashland’s Noble Café, typing on my computer next to Ella before she begins her new job a week from now, I feel the possibility myself of continuing to contribute. Learning more about social media and being a part of Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter, I am present, emboldened by the rhythm and evolution of life.

Happy Graduation Day, Grads and families! Happy First Full-time Jobs!

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