Today, I – and I know so many of us – are filled with gratitude and appreciation for our education, for our school and for our lives. Me – I took the long way here as did many of my fellow Human Services majors. I want to acknowledge and praise your journey – all of you!
The single mother with 3 kids, studying after the kids are in bed – to get her MBA or complete her UG degree
The young undergrads living on their own for the first time – challenged with balancing social and academics (and sometimes sports) – also not easy!
But we did it! You did it. The thing is, we didn’t do it alone. We never do it alone!
I’d like to express my deep appreciation
– To the amazing professors and instructors at NDNU You know them too! The superstars! The ones who helped give us hope and belief in ourselves! The ones filled with passion! I believe it was Maya Angelou who said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Thank you to all those instructors and staff who made us feel special and worthy!!
So what’s next for us? Where do we go from here? Some of you may already be set on your path and have a sense of what’s ahead for you. For many of you, this is the real beginning of your adult life. How exciting!
Now there are some who will tell you, be careful, it’s a big scary world out there! We’re just coming out of the worst recession this nation has ever seen. So, yea, you could look at things as scary. But there’s also another way to look at it. These are actually incredible times! Think about it: we’re witnessing the end of the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the Technology & Innovation Revolution! (ok, let’s leave out the campus Wi-Fi for a moment!) But here in Silicon Valley, we’re sitting at the epicenter of it all! We no longer have to be a mere cog in someone else’s wheel! It’s your chance to make this life what you want it to be – what you see in your mind’s eye! So, what are you going to do? But even more importantly, who are you going TO BE?
The cool thing about NDNU is that we leave here with a roadmap! We leave here with something incredibly powerful. We’ve got the Hallmarks. And these amazing Hallmarks will never fail you!
Briefly, the Hallmarks, for our honored guests, are:
- We proclaim by our lives – even more than by our words – that God is good. Which says to me that there is good in all things and people
- We honor the dignity and sacredness of each person. Right on!
- We educate for and act on behalf of justice and peace in the world. And boy do we need that!
- We commit ourselves to community service. To serving our fellow human beings
- We embrace the gift of diversity. And that’s every kind of human being and every way of thinking and being
- We create community among those with whom we work and with those we serve. Because community is at the heart of who we are-we’re social beings
- We develop holistic learning communities which educate for life. And the learning isn’t over – in fact, it’s just beginning!
So let’s explore just a few of these Hallmarks together. We’ve all seen them posted in the classrooms. It can be easy to think, ‘Hey, I’m too hip for the Hallmarks.” So let’s check it out. Are these just Catholic platitudes? Or could they actually be relevant guidance to any human being with a heart beating in their chest – and that’s regardless of religious or spiritual stripes? Well I’ve found, it’s definitely the latter.
For instance, when I originally thought about having the opportunity to address you all, I was thrilled with the prospect. But in a very short week, I went from thrilled to being absolutely gripped with fear! Could I be authentic enough (which, of course translates to: “Good Enough”) But then I remembered Hallmark 2: “WE HONOR THE DIGNITY AND SACREDNESS OF EACH PERSON.” It says each person – not just “all other persons.” Well I’m an “each.” And you’re an each too! And so is the person sitting next to you.
Sometimes it’s easier for me to see that Dignity and Sacredness in others. I’m a work in progress. Hallmark 2 asks us to honor that Dignity and Sacredness in everyone, and to remember, you have that spark of Divinity too, so don’t leave yourself out of that sacred equation! If you live this Hallmark, you’ll find yourself living your dream – instead of finding others filling in the blanks of your dreams for you! You owe it to your sacred center to carry this Hallmark in your heart!
Hallmark 3 challenges us to work for peace and justice – not just a paycheck– in all that we do. This is a rich Hallmark that you can really absorb into your being! Peace and social justice can be a part of everything we do! And it’s not just for non-profits anymore! It’s happening with the ever-increasing uptick in green and sustainable businesses. It’s compassionate capitalism – like Micro-Lending that Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Laureate, taught us. It’s philanthropy (and giving back to your school – hint, hint!) Businesses and organizations that honor people and the environment. You can work for one – or better yet, start one yourself! This is the land of startups – get in the game!
We can do WELL by doing GOOD! And remember that every discipline and field – and down to even the smallest human gesture of love – feeds into this beautiful Hallmark that beckons us to work for peace and justice. Let’s make it a better world! We all came to this party called life for a reason! FIND yours! I was fortunate – and for that I am truly grateful – to find myself at NDNU – really find myself. As a student, yes, but also as a member of the staff. And now, I have the best job in the world – I get to work with all of YOU! :o)
You know, one of my favorite bumper stickers says: “Don’t believe everything you think!” This puts me in mind of the first Hallmark about proclaiming by our lives that GOD IS GOOD! This Hallmark reminds me to be a good steward of my headspace. If God is good and we are of that Spirit, then all is good. Now I tend to be chronically positive, so I’m always looking for the positive spin, but I’ll tell you, it really comes in handy. I’ve heard it said, that “if you think the thoughts you’ve always thought, you’ll get the results you’ve always got.” Well, we need some new results! And you’re it!! We need your good thoughts because as the Buddha is purported to have said: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” Make sure there’s a positive story running between your ears!
So we’ve got a lot of work to do you and me! And it goes well being just paying off student loans! For Hallmarks 4 & 6 remind us that we’re all connected. We’re all in this together. These Hallmarks call us to create community and to serve community. And so we have to keep finding better and better ways to do things – for each other! Humanity is always pressing forward! And we can’t just work for ourselves – it’s not even possible! We do it with and for others – for our human community!
So, the psych and art therapy folks will become better healers. The communications and English majors – find new ways to express. The business majors – you’ll improve ways to serve and bring value to us. Everyone! The history and music majors! The educators of tomorrow among you! The mathematicians, the scientists, the religious studies majors – finding more truthful ways for us to live! We’re about creating community, and serving and improving that community. And you are at the core of creating that better tomorrow!
And if you don’t know what your purpose is yet, that’s okay. The key is: never give up! That Divine spark inside will let you know when it’s time. Someone once said, “Intuition is God talking to us between our thoughts.” So, listen and await further instruction on how you’ll be serving our human community. Because I guarantee, you have a critical role to play!
Those Hallmarks have served me so well! They’ve taught me patience, the importance of and the how of community. They’ve helped me soften my edges and value kindness over cleverness. (And regardless of what they tell you, don’t mistake kindness for weakness – they’re worlds apart. Kindness makes you invincible – Sr. Dorothy Stang knew that!). They’ve taught me that we’re all connected and that we’re all really Human Service majors (Marley was right in Scrooge, “mankind was my business!!”)
You know, money is great. It helps us navigate this material world. But remember, too, that we’re all spiritual beings having a human experience. So amidst the clamor to make it in this world, remember who you really are. Remember that sacred core, that dignity. And remember that NDNU has taught you – not just how to make a living, but HOW TO MAKE A LIFE!!!
Thank you – and God Bless us – everyone!