Purely Personal – Graduation Edition

Blog post #448

On Sunday, Rachel, my youngest child, will graduate from Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts college.

Like so many other high school and college graduates around the world this year, she will not be able to have a formal ceremony. I am proud of her accomplishments as a student and as a passionate individual. I am grateful that I will be with her to celebrate, at a social distance on Sunday, as I have not seen her in person in many months.

As investors all know, investing can be difficult and challenging. You must be disciplined. There can be ups and downs.

Rachel has overcome challenges and shown determination throughout her life. She is very caring about others, passionate about her beliefs and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. This has been part of her for as long as I can remember.

Rachel advocated and worked for many causes throughout her college experience, from her first year on campus through her final weeks sheltering in place with her housemates. She has been a campus leader as well as a leader for two years in Kalamazoo College’s camping orientation program, LandSea.

Rachel canoeing as a LandSea leader in the Adirondack’s

She has wanted to do things her way. And she has. She told me in high school that she wanted to attend a small, most likely private, college. She didn’t want to attend the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, as most of her friends did. I told her that would be far too expensive for a general undergraduate education.

She showed me that I was wrong, as many small private colleges provide significant grants or scholarships that make the cost comparable to UM or MSU. Note to fellow parents or grandparents….it may be worth exploring small private colleges for your children if they are interested.

She has taught me other things during her four years at K College.

  • When I moved her into college, she quickly taught me that she was a “first year” student and not a “freshman,” as the gender-neutral term was very important to her. I tried my best to use the term she wanted and eventually, it came naturally to me. This taught me that we can change our habits if we concentrate on it. But change takes effort and persistence.
  • Rachel taught me that what she was learning at college, such as how to think and process ideas was most important, not the grades that she got. I don’t know what her GPA is, and I am OK with that. This may not apply to many students and parents. I trusted her. She has learned to be a better reader, writer and thinker. She has learned responsibility. She completed a massive senior thesis project that took 8 months and is 78 pages long, and with future efforts, hopefully will reduce sexual harassment at summer overnight camps in the future.
  • Rachel taught me that a semester abroad can be valuable (and lots of fun as well)
  • Thankfully, she pursued what she wanted and spent 4 months in Greece, followed by a month of traveling alone throughout Europe. This provided me with an opportunity to travel to Greece and Italy with my three children, which was a memorable family experience and one of the best trips I’ve had. Thanks Rachel!!
  • She has taught me to be a better listener, though I sometimes struggle with interrupting her, as we exchange passionate ideas and viewpoints. Rachel, please know that I try, and I do listen to you!

Rachel on her study-abroad term in Greece, overlooking Athens

People ask me what Rachel will be doing after she graduates. For several years, I have told others that “she will likely work in an organization of some type where she can change the world, as she wants to.” She is very passionate about what she believes in. She is not motivated by money. She is not materialistic. She is a leader and she is effective. She plans to spend the next year in Detroit with a non-profit organization dedicated to social change through service. I have no doubt that Rachel will succeed at causing positive change, in whatever areas of focus she decides to pursue.

In this time when health and social justice issues require change, I’m proud that my daughter will be graduating with leadership abilities, strong thinking skills and a passion to bring positive change to our world.

Just like investing, it will not be easy. But I am confident in the future.

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