Advice For The Graduates


And just like that, it’s graduation time. It’s a day that leaves most parents wondering how 12 years passed by so fast.

There are many subjects I could use this space for this month – safety, seat belts, distractions, summer travel or future Interstate 69. As I thought it over, I realized that so many young, East Texas lives will change this month as they walk across a stage to receive high school diplomas.

Do I think many high school seniors will read this column? Probably not, but I am hoping that some parents will and maybe take a thought or two from it and repeat them to their graduates. In fact, repeat them over and over.

Tell them that life really is a journey and not a destination. Their lives are turning a page and their journeys are continuing. There is no such thing as “arriving” at a place or time in our lives where life begins. They should take all they have learned and experienced until now and use it in a positive way to make their next choice. All the more reason to make safe practices a way of life. Practice daily what will keep them safer, whether it’s safety on a job, in college or in a vehicle, so that as they spread their wings they can still arrive safely back home.

Tell them they have to find something they love to do. Work will fill a large part of their lives and the only way to be happy and satisfied is to love their chosen work. If they don’t know what they love to do yet, tell them to keep looking. Don’t settle. All the more reason to check out We are hiring and we offer life-long careers. We have engineers right here in the Lufkin District who have loved what they do for more than 30 years.

Tell them to always exercise control over what and how they think. Be conscious and aware enough to pay attention to things around them as they construct meaning from experiences in life. All the more reason to talk to them about staying alert behind the wheel of a vehicle. Put the phone down and think only about driving. Tell them this over and over because life can turn on a dime when you drive distracted.

Tell them to get involved in a community and have a seat at the table, no matter where they choose to live. I hope they choose to stay in East Texas because we need their bright, young minds as we build interstates and constantly change the landscape. Heck, tell them not to quit until they have a seat at the head of the table, because we need them to make their own footprints that will lead East Texas further into the future.

Tell them they have a gift and encourage them to always make right choices. There is a difference. Being clever is a gift and kindness is a choice. Buckling your seatbelt is also a choice. Make sure they know that choices will shape their lives daily and making the wrong one, like not buckling up, can have drastic consequences.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. While you are it, don’t forget to tell them to go just slow enough to really enjoy their journey, always pay it forward, learn to really listen to what others say, love a child, a dog and another person during their lifetime and always smile, no matter what.

Congratulations to all East Texas graduates. Stay safe and enjoy the journey of your life.


Rhonda Oaks
Rhonda Oaks
Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.

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