A Message to the Class of 2020

This time of year is always filled with excitement and celebration because we take the time to reflect on graduates from high school, technical school, trade schools, community colleges, universities and other types of educational institutions. While our celebrating will feel different than usual, that cannot and will not put a damper on the incredible achievements of each of you—each of our incredible graduates.

Normally I would be with some of you at your commencement ceremony talking with your families, hearing about your accomplishments, shaking hands and hearing about your future plans. But, because I can’t physically be there, I wanted to let you all know that I am incredibly proud of the achievements of this class.

The achievements of the Class of 2020 are different than my own class and that of all those before us because you succeeded in a completely unexpected way. You have rolled with the punches. You have overcome the difficulties of a pandemic and achieved your academic goals. Knowing this class is joining our workforce or our higher education institutions helps ease a lot of worries I have about the future.

I know many of you feel robbed because of how this year is ending, but I want you to know that even though you didn’t get to walk across that stage, we are all still here celebrating your accomplishments. We are clapping for you and eagerly waiting to see what you will achieve next.

And, for those of you who are worried about what the future brings, don’t fret. We’ve all had that moment of worry, and it is a moment you will encounter more than once in your life. That moment wondering what to do next. When I lost my first election for Congress, I had no plan B. The loss was tough and figuring out what to do next was trying. I literally talked to 75 people to get advice, and that 75th person was one of my best friend’s father. He told me he did not know what I should do, just that the next thing need to be something “meaningful and hard” and it would all work out in the end. At first, I thought it was bad advice, but I realized all I had done in life up to that point had revolved around doing something meaningful and hard. It ended up being what encouraged me to run for Congress again.

So, that’s what I want those of you who feel uncertain to do. Go after something that is meaningful, and something that is hard because when you do you better yourself. You will often suffer defeat through this, and, even better, you will eventually taste victory. Let me tell you, the sweet taste of victory makes up for every defeat and every bitter moment of disappointment.

As our nation begins to come out of the dark tunnel we have been in for the last few months, there is still some uncertainty about what is next. When will life return to normal? Will life look different once we return to some type of normalcy? Will we have to reinstate stay-at-home procedures in the future?

When you reach the end of a significant journey in your life, many will ask your thoughts on the future, and what concerns you might have. It’s happened to me as I decide to leave Congress and pursue other avenues to serve our great nation. When asked this, it is important to contemplate from the journey you have just been on and do not be afraid to seek advice.

One thing I can tell you for sure though, if you were to ask me to make a list on what my concerns are for the future, the Class of 2020 would not be on it. Over the past weeks and months, these individuals have faced uncertainty and adversity, but they have confronted it head-on. They rose to the challenge this unusual time faced them with, and it shows the character and abilities they have acquired over their years in school.

I hope the Class of 2020 will take the same character and abilities into whatever is next for them in life. Because if they do, there is no doubt our country will be better off for it.

God bless all of this year’s graduates, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.


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