Congratulations graduates! This is the season when so many families are celebrating the achievements of their loved ones. It is such a special time of the year as spring emerges and there is a feeling of newness and new possibilities in the air.
I have always loved graduation season. I have a relatively large family and we are spread out across the country. We often don’t see each other during the year, so we primarily get together for weddings, funerals, and… graduations. My parents always loved the graduations of my siblings, cousins, and just about anyone. We traveled far and wide to witness a loved one crossing the stage. It didn’t matter the weather or location, we were there to applaud when their name was called and be a witness to someone emerging on their intellectual and professional journey.
I would like to take this moment to honor all of the graduates and the families and communities who have supported people graduating this season. For anyone who has ever gone to school (of any sort), you know that the accomplishment was not earned in a silo. There were likely countless individuals who helped emotionally, financially, and in non-tangible ways to make sure the graduation happened.
I always attend Fordham’s graduation ceremonies each May because I love to meet the families of my students and let them know just how impressive their young loved ones have been. I also love to attend graduation to remind my students that their newly minted degree is just the beginning of their journey and their obligation to go forth and do the work. When I remind them of “the work,” I mean an appreciation of the struggles and sacrifices of their parents and ancestors. No matter our background, there was someone, somewhere, who sacrificed something to give us the life and the future that lies ahead.
When I think of my ancestors, I think of my paternal grandparents who both attained college degrees and I think of my maternal grandparents who had only partially completed 7th and 9th grades. Both sets of grandparents worked incredibly hard to provide my parents with opportunities and life lessons that were then extended to me. I can never repay my family for the generations of sacrifice. However, I can use each day to support others and make their intellectual journey one that is filled with a sense of accomplishment, duty, confidence, and collaboration.
To all of the graduates, teachers, families, and communities who have worked tirelessly for this moment, I salute you, thank you, and wish you the best in your future endeavors. So, when you see a graduate in these upcoming weeks, be sure to see them in their totality, beyond the robe—see the village upon whose shoulders they stand.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC, and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.