Congratulations to the Hawaii Class of 2023 Graduates

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2023 college and high school graduates. The last graduation ceremonies wrapped up in Hawaii this past weekend.

This year marked the first for Hawaii to have no COVID-19 health and safety restrictions for ceremonies, except that people attending were asked to stay home if they felt sick or tested positive for coronavirus within the past five days.

In 2022, the Hawaii State Department of Education COVID-19 guidelines made student participation voluntary, required masks to be worn at all times, required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test 48 hours prior to the ceremony.

So fortunately, with restrictions gone, this year was the start of normalcy, back to pre-COVID-19 and all about celebrating students, their hard work and perseverance, as well as their parents for their support and encouragement.

During graduation season high school students commonly will hear words of encouragement and advice from their adult family.

For those high schoolers who graduated with honors, know what they want to pursue careerwise and have been accepted to a great college of their choice – they probably don’t need much in terms of motivation and are on their way to success.

Real-world advice
But to those high schoolers who may not have been as focused and already have in mind – based off their mediocre to poor academic performance – to just get a job thinking they’ve reached their full potential by finishing high school, here is advice for you: life is just beginning. You get a second, third, fourth or as many chances as it takes to accomplish what you really want.

High school is not the final dress rehearsal for the real world as you might think. There are endless examples of successful people who did poorly in high school, people who later found that special motivation to give them the needed drive to achieve.

That motivation can come in many forms in your adult life. First and arguably the most important factor is as an adult, you must now pay bills and earn a living unlike your years as a teen. The lack of money to pay for what you really want is a powerful motivating factor for you to get a career that can pay for the life you want.

Second, having a family, wife and children, costs money. This will spark a fire to get things done, be more responsible with finances and career choices. As a parent, you will also want to be a good example for your children.

The truth is in the real world motivation and drive are the most influential factors in achieving. In high school, often a student is distracted and immersed in self-discovery mode. Students get caught in peer pressure and want so desperately to belong to a certain group. They think of being popular. They might fear a certain bully or group of bullies who become sources of stress and affect their ability to concentrate.

In college, most of all that nonsense goes away. People are just too busy working and studying, too busy being adults with responsibilities that really matter.

So high school graduates — if an adult hasn’t already reassured you yet of your true potential, it’s certainly more than you can imagine for yourself as a teen. You most likely could possess talents you are not even aware of having.

High school is not the end of all and your experiences there haven’t already established the limits of your capabilities. Your journey is just beginning. The path ahead is uncertain. It will not be easy.  But life after high school is like a reboot, a fresh start.

In this light, high school graduation is not just about a celebration of achievement, it marks a new beginning of unlimited potential. This is something to be excited about.

The power of motivation
There are many stories of inspiration. One is of Bianca Jeannot. From the age of 4 to 10, Bianca was homeless, moving from shelter to shelter with her single-parent mom and two brothers with special needs. One brother had down syndrome; the other needed dialysis every day.

Her teen years and high school were already atypical. Despite the chaos and instability, she graduated from high school. That year, her mother also passed away, which made her family situation worse. She was suddenly put in the role of head of the household, adding to her stress and responsibilities, not to mention the grieving she had to endure of losing the one and only parent she knew.

With all this on her shoulders, Bianca met these challenges with fiery motivation (mentioned earlier as a key to success). Bianca worked several jobs, went to college in New York, and took care of her two brothers with special needs at the same time. She graduated from New Rochelle College with a bachelor’s degree in English and a certificate in forensic science. She graduated with a 3.8 GPA and won several scholarships.

“Although we’ve suffered, and although we’ve gone through a lot, it’s made me who I am, and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Bianca said. “If I can do it, it means that it’s meant for me.”

Bianca’s life situation is an extreme example of the power of motivation. And she was able to accomplish all this freshly out of high school.

The future is bright not only for those who we typically think have immense potential like your honors or smart students. All high school graduates have a bright future. Convincing yourself of that is a start. Now dive in and do the work to make your dreams a reality.

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