by Michael A. MacDowell
At universites and colleges across the country, college presidents oftentimes offer remarks for their graduating classes. These short speeches are made to provide the new graduates with some perspective as they enter a changing rapidly world and embark on new chapters within their lives.
My message to the 378 students who waited to receive their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Misericordia University\’s spring commencement was simple: Being obsolete is in the eye from the beholder. I told the soon-to-be graduates and their proud friends and family members that Apple, our country\’s iconic and most successful companies, had recently declared its first iPhone archaic though it may be only six years old.
In my eyes, that initial iPhone is the symbol of today\’s ever-changing world. It revolutionized the way in which people conducted business and stayed in touch with each other C whether or not this was via a simple mobile phone call, texting, e-mailing or various social media sites C but it also marked the start of less personalization.
It is reassuring, otherwise downright comforting, to know that with the rapidity of change being so blatantly obvious nowadays that certain human characteristics remain constant. These are the building blocks C the foundation if you will C of the life.
At Misericordia University, for example, we make every effort to help students learn how to lead successful and fulfilled lives and careers based on the tenets of Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality which were established by our founders, the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Our graduates make use of this underpinning as the basis for how they lead their lives and make important decisions.
The Misericordia way is seen through the 158,000 hours of community service that was provided to those who work in need throughout the world last year, in the caring approach students and graduates from the University take in helping those who are less fortunate, and in searching for the very best in everyone they meet. Their concern for social justice as well as their belief that everybody should give back to society no matter their present position or station in life bodes well for their future but for the communities they\’ll call home.
The connection between most college educations are not wholly dissimilar from that of Misericordia. But there is something about a values-based institution that helps students combine a great education with superb career preparation while honing in students the fervour to serve others. Those who know Misericordia graduates and those of other excellent Catholic colleges in the area know what I am talking about.
It is inevitable. Change will invariably take place and, in a technology-based society like ours, that change will occur rapidly. However, the training and the values gained during your college experiences should and probably will remain constant throughout your lives.
It is the fact that value construct that allows individuals to place the rapid alternation in technology, job requirements, civic engagement and lifestyles into perspective. It is the stuff upon which a life well lived relies.
So while the latest iPhone or tablet may rapidly become obsolete, the abilities one develops in college and the values one hones there\’ll serve one well throughout their lives. They will be the lasting and sturdy components of an existence worth living and can serve them well for the rest of their lives.
Michael A. MacDowell is president of Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa., where he occasionally teaches economics.