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Chester County Press

Editorial: Invest in a quality mattress: Advice to 2018 graduates

05/29/2018 11:14AM ● By Richard Gaw
It can be be said that among the hundreds of events that the Chester County Press covers every year, the commencement exercises at Avon Grove, Kennett, Oxford and Unionville high schools remain our favorite stories.

It does not require much insight to understand why. At each ceremony, we get to witness the long march of teenagers, dressed in the regalia of their respective schools, conform to the order of ritual, but the real truth is that while they sit through speeches, hear their names called and collect their diplomas, their lives and their futures have already become a kaleidoscope of a million clashing colors, dreams and directions. In truth, they're already gone; in their minds, they've already left the soft nurturing nests of their childhood, and often, their journey begins at the podium.

During the weeks and months that will follow, there is not a graduating senior from any of these schools who will not be pulled aside and given words of advice, whether it be from a parent, a wise sage of an aunt or an uncle or grandparent, or a friend. Each year at this time, we rummage through some of the best commencement speeches given by celebrities, and in 2018, the speeches we've read – some of which we include here – serve as poignant and humorous bookmarks to the future.

Here are some of our favorites for the year:

“Ask for help when you need it, and put your phone away at the dinner table. Just sit on it, really. And know that what you tweet and post and Instagram today might be asked about in a job interview tomorrow or 20 years from tomorrow. Be nice to little kids. Be nice to your elders. Be nice to animals. And know that it’s better to be interested than interesting. Invest in a quality mattress.”  Oprah Winfrey at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism on May 11

“When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you.”  Actor Chadwick Boseman at Howard University, May 12

“Make a point of reaching out to people whose beliefs and values differ from your own. I would like you to listen – truly listen – and try to understand them and find that common ground...Your teachers will come from every station in life, every education level, every belief system, every lifestyle. I hope you will embrace that.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at New York University, May 17

“The highest form of respect that we can pay to the people who came before us --the people who sacrificed for us and gave us everything -- is to be better than them. … Living up to your heroes is amazing, but it’s not good enough. The difference between goodness and greatness is going beyond. You have to push forward and surpass their greatness in order to pay homage to their struggle. Don’t be afraid.”  Chance the Rapper at Dillard University, May 12

“You have to take risks. I am going to ask you to take risks whenever you can. Put yourself on the line. Don’t be afraid to look foolish. Make mistakes, take chances. It’s one of the best things you can do.” Actor Michael Keaton at Kent State University, May 12

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