Commencement address to Judson College’s 2020 graduates

Judson graduation

Jennifer Davis Rash

Graduates, the nugget I want to leave with you today is the importance of holding on to the capability to learn.

As the Class of 2020, you are being touted as the class above all classes because of what you experienced during your final semester. You know, that little pandemic thing.

You’ve proven you’ve got what it takes.

You learned in only a few months what most of us had the luxury of a few decades to learn — how to adapt and still flourish when life doesn’t work out like we planned.

But with this praise comes a great deal of pressure and responsibility, which can be managed with success if you maintain a spirit of teachability.

The ability to continue learning at every step of your journey will always serve you well.

Some days, good enough truly is good enough, but most days should be about excellence, no matter how insignificant the tasks of the day may seem.

Part of being excellent is owning up to mistakes.

Mistakes are part of the journey so being mature enough to own yours will lighten the load for everyone involved, including yourself.

It’s also important to learn from them — yours and others.

One mistake we all make at some point is to believe the world revolves around us.

And while today is rightfully all about each of you — most days are not.

In fact, the more we focus on helping others instead of ourselves, the more at peace we will be.

Being a graduate of a religious institution of higher learning means you know a bit about the Bible, so you already know Scripture teaches our greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

And the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

As you leave the college nest and prepare to tackle the world, clinch tightly to those commandments.

And recognize that to achieve both, you must also love yourself.

Scripture is clear that each one of us is created in the image of our Father, the almighty God, so humbly loving ourselves reflects our love for Him and teaches us how to love others.

You only have one life to live here on earth, and you’ve started well.

I urge you to commit today to also finish well — with confidence in who you are and assurance of Whose you are.

The fact is, we need you.

We need your light. We need your kindness. We need your smarts. We need your energy. And we need your teachability.

A few ABCs for the road …

A — Always be honest but be kind in the process, and always give people the benefit of the doubt as your first response.

B — Be forgiving and able to let go of past hurts.

C — Calm the chaos around you by giving more than you take and being part of the solution.

Congratulations, Class of 2020. You are beautiful. You are valued. You are loved. You are strong.

And remember, we need you — the very best version of you God has in store.

Editor’s Note — Commencement address delivered by Jennifer Davis Rash at Judson College in Marion, Alabama, on June 27, 2020.

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