{Personal} A New Beginning

On a day so long predicted to be "the end," I thought it might be appropriate to dedicate a post to a "new beginning" in our family.

We spent last weekend in Harrisonburg celebrating my sister-in-law's graduation. We're SO proud of Catherine. She graduated a semester early to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. 

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I couldn't tell you a single thing about the speaker at my graduation a few years back - height? gender? much less their message! I am lucky I caught the cue to "walk", considering my head was so full of "OHMIGOSHI'MGRADUATING... now what?" thoughts. But Saturday's speaker's message was not lost on me.  

Justin Constantine, JMU's December 2012  Commencement Speaker 

Justin Constantine, JMU's December 2012  Commencement Speaker 

Meet Justin Constantine. He volunteered for deployment to Iraq in 2006, where he suffered a sniper shot to the head. Through the quick actions of some very brave men, he was miraculously rescued. He shared his story of recovery with the graduates, and a few life lessons he learned along the way. 

The very strong "woman behind the man", Dahlia Constantine (left) was seated in front of us. Talk about an inspiration for devotion, patience, and love!

The very strong "woman behind the man", Dahlia Constantine (left) was seated in front of us. Talk about an inspiration for devotion, patience, and love!

What spoke to me most was his message of patience and determination in achieving your dreams. Success is not instantaneous, and does not come without hard (often times, not-so-glamorous) work. This college educated man paved roads by day, and waited tables at night. During his internships, he made ends meet by loading packages on airplanes for UPS. He reminded me that these are the sacrifices that build character in a way nothing else can. And this man, absolutely, defines what it means to have  "character". We, as a nation, are blessed that his experiences led him to serve our country, and lead good men and women who fight to keep us safe.

We're the "entitled" generation, so I've heard. I can only imagine the number of 20-somethings listening that day will still turn their nose up at a request to load paper in the copier, or alphabetize files. Or worse - who won't take a job at all because it is either "below them" or just "not their dream job". 

Life has a way of humbling us all, doesn't it? Odds are, where you are now is not where you thought you would be the day some dean handed you your diploma. With any luck, you're somewhere even better. But if you're not there yet, it's nice to have a profoundly successful and honorable man remind you that it's just one more leg of your journey. 

Proud papa DuVal, escorting his baby girl to receive her diploma.

Proud papa DuVal, escorting his baby girl to receive her diploma.

Her future is as bright as that smile!

Her future is as bright as that smile!

So here's to all you graduates. Your life is ahead of you, and I know you'll go far. Your next few years won't be easy, and you'll need to make sacrifices along the way. Know that you have not failed your dreams by taking that not-so-exciting job to feed yourself or make the rent. It's just one more leg of your journey. For some, your dream will remain, and years of hard work will get you there. For others (maybe most?), your dream will change. And that's ok, too. 

Mine did <3

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Cheers - everyone! To dreams - old and new.

Need inspiring? Watch Justin's speech on youtube. (But don't forget to leave your advice for the new graduates in the comments section first!)