by M. Jodi Rell

A few words as we send you on your way to the rest of your life. A list of do’s and don’ts, if you will.

Do continue your learning. Get an advanced degree. It’s almost mandatory these days. Take a couple of years off if you need to, but go back and get a master’s degree or higher. Do it not just for a better job but for a better mind.

Whether you go back or not, keep learning. Keep asking questions. Keep finding out why. Demand to know why not. Expand your experiences and your minds. Let intellectual curiosity be your constant companion.PageLines- CTperspective.jpg

Do keep every door open to yourselves. Never say never. Always try something new — a new idea, a new place, new travel, new friends, new opportunities. This girl from Norfolk, Virginia, never would have guessed she would be the governor of Connecticut one day. But I left every door open — and look where it led me.

Don’t let fear guide you. Don’t let failure stop you.

This is your moment. Take it. Own it. Master it. Make the most of it.

Trust me, you really can change the world. And we need you to change it, because our world is changing in so many ways, and at WARP speed.

Our economy, the job market, technology, education, health care — all are evolving, advancing every day.

Frankly the pace of change is breathtaking. Yes, breathtaking and challenging. But nobody is better prepared, better equipped to rise to the challenge.

quote block RellDo remember to always treat those around you with respect, compassion and kindness. Don’t let the size of your paycheck be the measure of your success. Rather let it be how well you treat others and what kind of difference you make.

Do remember to say thank you. And you can start today by thanking your parents, your advisers, your professors — all those who helped you to get to this day.

Do work hard. Play hard. And love harder.

It’s not just about a job or a job title. Yes a good, satisfying, rewarding job is important. But far, far more important is grabbing and enjoying life and building a family whom you love and who loves you.

Participate in your community. Volunteer. Contribute. Put aside the shallowness, hollowness of self. Embrace and elevate others.

Think about the person you love the most. Admire the most. Think about why. And then do. Do as they do.

Oh, I envy each one of you. You are on the precipice of a whole new beginning. The canvas of your life is mostly blank, waiting now for you to fill it in with flourish and flair. With broad strokes and fine lines. With love and laughter.

This is your moment. Take it. Own it. Master it. Make the most of it. You are the sons and daughters of Connecticut. We are all so proud of you.

M. Jodi Rell of Brookfield was Governor of Connecticut, 2004-2011, after serving as Lieutenant Governor and State Representative. These remarks are excerpted from the commencement address delivered to undergraduates at Western Connecticut State University on May 10, 2015.

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CT by the Numbers publishes opinion articles of 600 words or less.  Submissions should be emailed to info@ctbythenumbers.info.  Perspectives are published at the discretion of CT by the Numbers. 

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