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A message to the Class of 2014 through Maya Angelou

By From page A8 | May 31, 2014

If words reflect the condition of your heart, Maya Angelou had a heart that was stronger and healthier than most.

Although her preliminary medical diagnosis says she died from heart failure, spiritually, her heart did not fail her. It filled her and fueled her with enough love and wisdom to nourish a generation to come. Her body of work will come to be the epitome of practical wisdom that will influence all races, creeds and cultures. She provided us with a wealth of hidden jewels.

Don’t underestimate the power of words. Angelou is one of the greatest literary voices of our time, with unmatched oral and written communication skills. It’s a gift that was given to her and she generously gave freely to millions of listeners and readers worldwide.

As the end of the school year approaches, what gems would Angelou offer the 2014 graduates? Here are a few on which to meditate:

  • “Nothing will work unless you do.” Put effort and passion in every task, goal and relationship that you are involved in. Things don’t just fix themselves.
  • “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” Don’t let setbacks and disappointments affect you negatively. Use them as teaching tools to succeed.
  • “You may not control all the events that happen, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Do not let negativity affect your attitude. Keep your head up.
  • “People may forget what you say, they may forget what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Treat all people with love, dignity and respect. Emotional memory lasts a lifetime.
  • “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” Trust that you are unique and there is no one else exactly like you. Inject your personality into everything you do.

I encourage members of the Class of 2014 to not let your learning and education end once you cross the stage and except your diploma. Like Angelou, be a life learner. Remember, anything that is not growing is dead. Although we may be no longer growing physically, we should continue to grow personally, mentally, spiritually and intellectually.

Whatever direction you choose, pursue it with integrity. You may have to leave your comfort zone and take the road less traveled. Be it college, missionary work, the Peace Corps, Job Corps or Marine Corps, see the world, explore the world and find yourself.

Having said that, I’d also like to share an enlightening quote that was recently voiced by a high school student: “Do not be so intoxicated by the future that you miss the dynamic impact of the present.” Wow! There is a powerful revelation in that statement.

We can sometimes be so overwhelmed by what lies ahead that we take for granted the need to embrace, absorb and learn from the current experience.

Finally, one of the best skills you can develop that will help you succeed is one that you won’t find in any high school or college class schedule: interpersonal skills.

The more you are able to maintain and retain personal and professional relationships, the more apt you will be at improving your quality of life. You will become an individual who uplifts people and will develop a healthy network of human resources. So in the voice of the great Maya Angelou, continue to grow, learn and rise.

Congratulations and good luck, Class of 2014.

Deon D. Price is an author and youth life skills coach who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow him at www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.

Deon Price


Discussion | 1 comment

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  • Neema PriceMay 31, 2014 - 1:19 pm

    I agree that it is truly a blessing that she was in our lives and she was a jewel and pillar of great strength. I enjoyed her books and poetry.

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