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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: graduation, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 31
1. How to write a great graduation speech

It’s graduation time at many of the nation’s schools and colleges. The commencement ceremony is a great exhalation for all involved and an annual rite of passage celebrating academic achievements. Commencement ceremonies typically feature a visiting dignitary who offers a few thousand inspirational words. Over the years, I’ve heard more of these speeches than I care to admit and have made my own checklist of suggestions for speakers. For those of you giving commencement speeches or listening to them, here’s my advice.

The post How to write a great graduation speech appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on How to write a great graduation speech as of 5/10/2015 10:51:00 AM
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2. Education and crime over the life cycle

By Giulio Fella and Giovanni Gallipoli


Crime is a hot issue on the policy agenda in the United States. Despite a significant fall in crime levels during the 1990s, the costs to taxpayers have soared together with the prison population. The US prison population has doubled since the early 1980s and currently stands at over 2 million inmates. According to the latest World Prison Population List (ICPS, 2013), the prison population rate in 2012 stood at 716 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants, against about 480 in the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation – the two OECD countries with the next highest rates – and against a European average of 154. The rise in the prison population is not just a phenomenon in the United States. Over the last twenty years, prison population rates have grown by over 20% in almost all countries in the European Union and by at least 40% in one half of them. The pattern appears remarkably similar in other regions, with a growth of 50% in Australia, 38% in New Zealand and about 6% worldwide.

In many countries – such as the United States and Canada – this fast-paced growth has occurred against a backdrop of stable or decreasing crime rates and is mostly due to mandatory and longer prison sentencing for non-violent offenders. But how much does prison actually cost? And who goes to jail?

The average annual cost per prison inmate in the United States was close to 30,000 dollars in 2008. Costs are even higher in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada. Punishment is an expensive business. These figures have prompted a shift of interest, among both academics and policymakers, from tougher sentencing to other forms of intervention. Prison populations overwhelmingly consist of individuals with poor education and even poorer job prospects. Over 70% of US inmates in 1997 did not have a high school degree. In an influential paper, Lochner and Moretti (2004) establish a sizable negative effect of education, in particular of high school graduation, on crime. There is also a growing body of evidence on the positive effect of education subsidies on school completion rates. In light of this evidence, and given the monetary and human costs of crime, it is crucial to quantify the relative benefits of policies promoting incarceration vis-à-vis alternatives such as boosting educational attainment, and in particular high school graduation.

When it comes to reducing crime, prevention may be more efficient than punishment. Resources devoted to running jails could profitably be employed in productive activities if the same crime reduction could be achieved through prevention.

iStock_000012526327Small

Establishing which policies are more efficient requires a framework that accounts for individuals’ responses to alternative policies and can compare their costs and benefits. In other words, one needs a model of education and crime choices that allows for realistic heterogeneity in individuals’ labor market opportunities and propensity to engage in property crime. Crucially, this analysis must be empirically relevant and account for several features of the data, in particular for the crime response to changes in enrollment rates and the enrollment response to graduation subsidies.

The findings from this type of exercise are fairly clear and robust. For the same crime reduction, subsidizing high school graduation entails large output and efficiency gains that are absent in the case of tougher sentences. By improving the education composition of the labor force, education subsidies increase the differential between labor market and illegal returns for the average worker and reduce crime rates. The increase in average productivity is also reflected in higher aggregate output. The responses in crime rate and output are large. A subsidy equivalent to about 9% of average labor earnings during each of the last two years of high school induces almost a 10% drop in the property crime rate and a significant increase in aggregate output. The associated welfare gain for the average worker is even larger, as education subsidies weaken the link between family background and lifetime outcomes. In fact, one can show that the welfare gains are twice as large as the output gains. This compares to negligible output and welfare gains in the case of increased punishment. These results survive a variety of robustness checks and alternative assumptions about individual differences in crime propensity and labor market opportunities.

To sum up, the main message is that, although interventions which improve lifetime outcomes may take time to deliver results, given enough time they appear to be a superior way to reduce crime. We hope this research will advance the debate on the relative benefits of alternative policies.

Giulio Fella is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics and Finance at Queen Mary University, United Kingdom. Giovanni Gallipoli is an Associate Professor at the Vancouver School of Economics (University of British Columbia) in Canada. They are the co-authors of the paper ‘Education and Crime over the Life Cycle‘ in the Review of Economic Studies.

Review of Economic Studies aims to encourage research in theoretical and applied economics, especially by young economists. It is widely recognised as one of the core top-five economics journal, with a reputation for publishing path-breaking papers, and is essential reading for economists.

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Image credit: Prison, © rook76, via iStock Photo.

The post Education and crime over the life cycle appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. 4 Creative tips to do before you graduate

'Do More of What Makes You Happy' Quote Illustration by Unraveled Design-Available for purchase soon.

Hey everyone ,

Leaving art college or university can be both an exciting and nerve wrecking time for the upcoming graduate. Whether your in art college or university here in the uk or internationally and are ready to pursue your creative career its always best I think to plan and prepare before the big leap.

I remember when I graduated from my bachelor’s degree  I thought everything would  be plain sailing, though when you actually leave you realise how that bit of planning can help in being efficient and organised in working towards your creative goals and knowing what to do next. So to lend a hand I’ve put together 5 tip on what to do before you graduate in 2014 for pursuit in a creative career.

1. Research : If you know in yourself that your next step is to venture into creative freelancing in your specialism then the best thing to do is gather your research. Looking into things such as freelancing rates, how to register your business, potential business funding or scheme’s available in your area may just help you plan out what course you need to take to do what you love.

2. Prepare your portfolio: The key thing thats going to help skyrocket your creative career is your portfolio and the work you have in it. Now having completed your years of degree or college work you’ll no doubt have a portfolio full of lovely projects. However if  like me you came away with dust covered dissertations and little of a portfolio you may feel abit daunting knowing there’s more work to do.

So whether your portfolio is ready or not you need to have it professionally presented for people to view it such as potential clients, agents etc. If your wanting to build up your portfolio from scratch then ideally allocate yourself maybe 3-6 months to build it up to have some fresh  new material that your truly happy to promote and using themes like those found here on illustration friday maybe a great place to start generating idea’s.

3. Set money aside : If you’re able to its always a good thing to put money aside to later on use to invest in your business. This will enable you to buy the necessary start up equipment and materials that you need to effectively do the work to a standard that will enable your creative business to function.

4. Gain advice and mentoring : Starting out your own creative venture isn’t easy so I feel that gaining all the support, advice and mentoring that you can will be worth its weight in gold. If you don’t already know what a mentor is or have one a mentor is somebody who can be in your field of practice with experience of the industry who is there to give you advice and guidance to help you along the way now and then.

I am lucky enough to have two wonderful mentors so my advice would be asking someone who inspires you but also who you have established a relationship with whether they would possibly consider mentoring you.  Either way mentoring isn’t all take, no doubt you’ll have skills and advice you can exchange so its a win win situation either way.

There’s also a variety of business support and advice centres locally no doubt aswell as online for you to access such as enterprise nation, the design trust and the princes trust so please check them out.

Hope you found this little post helpful, kudos to you for getting through all your studies and here’s to a creative venture yet to start! Have you decided where you’re venturing on from here?

Image : “Do more of what makes you happy” illustration by  Lindsay at Unraveled design .

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4. Highlights From My Last VCFA Residency

Graduation HatsIt’s official. I’ve graduated from the Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in writing for children and young adults! It’s been a vigorous and wonderful writing adventure and I’m proud of all that I’ve achieved.

My final residency was glorious (I love this community), stressful (I had to give my own lecture and reading), endlessly inspiring and a fabulous send off into the next stage of my writing life. There’s always more to learn, but I look forward to applying all the tools I now have. The following are a few final tid-bits of writerly advice that I gleaned from my last residency.

Highlights From My Final VCFA Residency:

The Writing Process:

  • Writing is messy, magical, hard, and requires a daily leap of faith.
  • A novel is a hundred ideas or threads that are all braided together.
  • You don’t have to write a perfect sentence every time.
  • There is danger in rushing toward the fun bits of our story. Slow down.
  • Self congratulatory cleverness can be lethal.
  • Several things can be true at once. There are no universal truths when it comes to writing.
  • You can’t hide from pain if you want to evoke pain.  Sometimes the fear of censorship is really about protecting yourself from being vulnerable.

In Regard to Your Reader:

  • Don’t tell your reader everything. Give them 2 + 2, but don’t give them 4. Make them work for it and become involved in the story.
  • Tension happens on the page between your characters. Suspense happens between the pages, it’s the interaction of the reader and the book.
  • Look for the illusive quality of your work, the weight and felt presences. The ghost within the work that the reader will feel but not articulate.
  • Do your character’s choices empower your reader?
  • If you were telling your story out loud in front of a group of 10-year-olds, what would you keep and what would you cut? You’d probably cut more than you think.

On Plot:

  • Ask yourself what charge every action in your story carries.
  • What is the promise whispered to your reader in the first pages? Can/does your story fulfill that promise?
  • Every novel starts with a coincidence, after that no other coincidence will be believable!
  • At the end of the book we are looking for catharsis, redemption, that “good cleaned out feeling.”

WritingOn Writing Picture Books:

  • Look for contrasts and opposites when you write a picture book.
  • Sometimes we know how a book ends, but it is the HOW that is important. How do we get there is what will bring a kid back for re-reading.
  • Animal characters can be easier to access for kids, because they aren’t influenced by gender, race, etc.
  • Pack your sentences. Say more with less.

A VCFA residency is full of a thousand musings, genius thoughts, inspirational quotes, and new ways to think about craft! I will dearly miss my bi-yearly residencies. Thank you to all the faculty, students, alumni, administrators, and friends that make this amazing education possible! It’s been a wild and wondrous ride.

Now… to the writing cave!


7 Comments on Highlights From My Last VCFA Residency, last added: 2/6/2013
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5. The Future is Scary

FRHSLast weekend was my alma mater’s high school graduation. A thrilling, momentous (and gorgeous) day! It made me think back to my own graduation and the fact that what scared me at 18 scares me still: moving forward into the unknown. In fact, if I could go back and give myself advice it would probably be this: The future is scary. It never stops being scary. Get used to it. And don’t be scared.

Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to leave high school, to venture out of state to college, to make new friends and take classes towards two majors I was passionate about (screenwriting! creative writing! so much writing!). But I was also terrified. My high school was a cocoon of all that was familiar and comfortable and good. Not that every day was bliss. There were fights and tears and stress. But what I realized on graduation night was that I wasn’t ready to leave. I’m never ready to leave: not school, not a party, not vacation. I’m not ready to leave for work in the morning, and I’m not ready to leave work in the afternoon. And I’m NEVER ready to go to bed at night, no matter how tired I feel.

I spent much of the summer before college doing what I loved: reading–and finally there was no required reading. Free to read what I wanted, I think I read nothing but Orson Scott Card. I’m not going to get political here because this was during an innocent time before the internet gobbled me whole, so these books were merely the words on the page and what I brought to them.

I remember it so clearly. I was sitting on the deck at my parents’ house, feeling sorry for myself because in a few months time I would be far away from the beautiful rolling hills, when I came to one specific passage.

Alvin grimaced at him.  ‘Taleswapper, I’m not ready to leave home yet.’
‘Maybe folks have to leave home before they’re ready, or they never get ready at all.”

I stopped and read it again. Because although I had not named it out loud, that was me. I was Alvin. And Taleswapper’s words were exactly what I needed to hear: it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to not feel ready. Because if you wait to feel ready, then you’ll be waiting forever. Sometimes you have to jump out of the plane and trust that your parachute will open.*

*(Please note, I have never been sky diving, but I know someone who has, so that’s almost the same thing, right?)

It’s funny to think back to that day, because it it planted a seed which has motivated me many times since. Not always, of course. Sometimes I still chicken out. But sometimes when anxiety refuses to release its stranglehold: a new relationship, a new job, a new adventure–I find myself thinking back to those wise words, and I realize that I will be okay, because I’m always okay.

And if Orson Scott Card is not your bent, a good friend of mine recently gave me a new mantra, one that she repeats to her daughter whenever she is scared worried. “You are BRAVE. You are STRONG. You are WONDERFUL. And YOU will be fine.” What better words could you ever need?

There are so many things I could have missed out on, if I gave into fear:

Duffy College Performing Hole-in-the-Rock, Bay of Islands, New Zealand Whangarei, New Zealand Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Kata Tjuta, Northern Territory, Australia Katherine's Gorge, Australia Jelly Fish, Sydney Aquarium Manta Ray, Sydney Aquarium Heights Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Loch Ness, Scotland Rally to Restore Sanity, Washington, DC

So do you embrace the future at full tilt? Or are you worry-wart* like me?

*(Officially diagnosed by my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Burton. Thanks for that.)

What gets you through the scary times?


Tagged: Being Brave, Fear, Future, Graduation, Growing Up, Leaving Home, Orson Scott Card, Reading, Teens, writing

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6. 5 Secrets Adults Won’t Tell You – Kyle Zimmer’s Commencement Speech at Saint Mary’s College

Our intrepid leader, CEO, and co-founder of First Book, Kyle Zimmer, shared some of the wit and wisdom that motivates the First Book Team on a daily basis with a crowd of graduates of St Mary’s College in Notre Dame this Saturday.

Five Secret Lessons for Graduates from Kyle Zimmer, Founder of First Book, Commencement at Saint Mary's College Notre DameAdults Are Not Really Certain of Anything.

“In my own life, it took me far too long to figure this out. When I was young, I got distracted by adults who would swagger or bluster. I assumed that anyone who was that forceful MUST know what they were talking about.”

You Are Going to Fail.

“The truth is that, although you can fail without ever succeeding, it is impossible to succeed without failing. Every famous person who has ever succeeded has failed –- and usually significantly -– before contributing their success to the world.”

Grit Trumps IQ.

“Researchers have been confounded by the fact that having a high IQ does not correlate to success. Finally one woman, Angela Lee Duckworth, started performing wide-ranging analysis and she has discovered that, while it is certainly handy to have a high IQ -– grit is by far the better indicator of potential. She defines grit as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals.’ You are all blessed elevated IQs –- which will give you a leg up -– but your task now is to find your passion – and get gritty – and no one will be able to stop you.”

Community Is Everything. Build It and Be A Part of It.

“The institutions you will encounter will likely not have communities that are as strong and supportive as St. Mary’s. They will need you to build them up: at work, at home, with people who are kind and smart and have a great sense of humor. Wait — let me reorder that -– build with people who have a great sense of humor and who also are smart and kind. For heaven’s sake, prioritize the sense of humor. It sustains everyone.”

The Most Powerful Force in the World is Empathy.

Empathy is powerful because it demands action. This world is a needy place and we cannot afford the luxury of inaction. Pledge yourself to empathy. It will require you — when you can — to take on monumental action on behalf of others, but it also requires you to take smaller actions every single day. Hold the door for the person behind you, smile at somebody who never gets a smile. Just do it. Our world needs you desperately.”

The post 5 Secrets Adults Won’t Tell You – Kyle Zimmer’s Commencement Speech at Saint Mary’s College appeared first on First Book Blog.

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7. What? We are almost in May???

Say it isn't so! I feel like I haven't stopped since Christmas. It's been one holiday after another, then on top of that there was the kiddo's birthdays; the grandbaby (Gigi) arrived in February; my anniversary trip in March, and I also submitted not one, but 2 books this year already. Woot!

I hate to confess that it took me a few years to write the last full novel, but that's because I rewrote it like almost 4 times. (Because I doubted myself. I had to put a stop to that "they won't like me crap", and ask an editor to give me a firm deadline. Yes. I did. She gave me 3 weeks. Holy crap! But it worked. Yay! (Thanks, CH!) I had to learn a hard lesson with that book. Write what you love. Don't change the "entire" book because 1 person suggest you do so. Go with your gut.)

However, I did write several novella's in between that time, and took lots of classes, attended several conferences, so it wasn't like I wasn't writing or learning. ALWAYS LEARN! (Which means you have to do a lot of reading too.)

Anywho...I can't wait for May to be over. My youngest daughter is graduating from H.S. I know right....Exciting! I'm so proud of her...Then there is the RT Convention in New Orleans. Right smack in the middle of Graduation time. Oy. We'll get through it. I can't wait though, there will be over 700 authors attending. (Not all of them are signing, but you'll get to see sooooo freakin' many that your head will be spinning. Plus I have a few friends staying with me. All at different times, so it's going to so much fun! :-) I think Thursday night is the pub crawl. I'll be at Bourbon Heat with the Entangled Peeps. Come find me.

I hope to meet you all at RT. Please come say hi, and if you see me hiding in a corner please come drag me out. I'm a little shy and need people to drag me from my shell sometimes. For more info about RT go to www.RTconvention.com  I think the Saturday book fair is $5.00  Be prepared for long long long lines.

Have a great weekend,
Dawn Chartier

(p.s. Please excuse any typos. I haven't had my coffee yet. :-)




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8. A Final Napkin Masterpiece

I am coming to terms with the fact that yesterday was my eldest’s last day of high school…sort of. I am not given to emotion, but this is a big deal. In a little over a week we will celebrate her graduation where she will walk across the stage with ribbons, cords, and medals she earned for her outstanding achievements of the past four years. I had a ribbon adorning my graduation gown, as well. Just look at my picture as I accepted what I thought was my diploma.

img008

Yes, R. Ted Boehm knew that wasn’t my ribbon also. I mooched it from someone who had already walked – note the smarmy grin quickly quelled when Mr. Boehm whispered “This is not really your diploma either, son.”  Oh the relief when I did pick a real one up a few days later. I’m guessing he got more than a few reprobates with that nugget over the years.

There is no doubt she will get a diploma, though. And in the fall she will go off to college. She is loud, messy, a bit sassy at times…and I will miss her greatly. I will miss being woken up by her singing at inappropriate hours of the night. I will miss her ignoring me as she saunters to her room and I will miss her friends being over to all hours watching movies underneath my room with the volume so high my bed shakes. (In writing this I wonder why teenagers hate sleep.) I jest. I could list her positive qualities, but my blog would run out of storage space. She is a true gem – a lovely, talented, and godly young lady.

And so, I drew her a last napkin art yesterday morning. I don’t have any idea when this tradition started or why, but whenever I pack lunches, I draw them a little picture on their napkin. My drawing ability would have to increase significantly to be called rudimentary. My sketches are barely above cave art. But if I ever pack a lunch and forget napkin art, they call me on it. Often my pictures are so terrible that I have to explain what I drew and why it is funny (to me).  Ironically, they also render the napkin basically useless as an instrument of cleanliness.

Most of the time they involve animal humor, but on this occasion I drew a creative take on graduation where my graceful daughter trips in front of the principal.

image

I doubt it will come true, but you never know with all of those cords & ribbons weighing her down. Those things are dangerous on many levels, thus my aversion to earning any.


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9. The World is Your…bathroom?

When the embers of a special event are dying, I find it wonderful to sit in their glow with the family and recount fond memories. I hope you have evenings that resolve in this manner. I am not overly sentimental, but I adore hearing my girls laugh at scenes they pull from the recesses of their minds. Sometimes I remember them from my own point of view, but many times I have no recollection of them at all.

agedparent_2119321bSo it was that we sat on the evening of my eldest’s graduation from high school talking about the good old days. They willingly lay down their electronic devices to discuss vacations, birthdays, special times around the home, and many other things past that held a luster for them. I mostly listened as they took turns – at times I was a minor character in their stories and sometimes I had main stage. So contented and relaxed, I felt like a player in a Dickensian novel with my shoes kicked off and feet resting warmly on the fender.

My interest was piqued when the graduate took the floor with what she described as her first memory. I, unfortunately, held the title role for that one. To set the stage for her recollection: it took place on the second floor of our previous house. She was a toddler, mother was away, and I was watching her. It seems she walked into the hallway to see me relieving myself in the bathroom at the other end of the hall. The next thing she remembered, she fell down the stairs, bumped her head, and I ran to help her. That is all her mind retains. No resolution. No happy ending. No idea if I pulled up my pants before valiantly diving to catch her at the bottom of the stairs.

I started to dispute this as poppycock until I realized it actually sounded quite plausible. With the stern admonition from her protective mother to watch her like a hawk, I can absolutely believe that I left the door open when I peed. I mean, I can’t leave her alone even when nature calls, right? I wouldn’t think it would adversely affect a two year old to see that from the back…unless she remembers it forever.

To my horror, this nugget set of a volley of stories about times they had stumbled upon me peeing with the door open. Some were old, some were far too recent. I promise, I’m not an exhibitionist. I simply fail to consider all of the viewing angles that mirrors give. I also forget how mobile my family members are and the sheer number of them – all female. While most of the time, they insist I am guilty of leaving the door open, they would have to admit that the door to our bedroom is one they feel free to open without knocking at any hour. You don’t knock, you get what’s inside! That’s my motto.HPIM0357.JPG

 

I also subscribe to the belief that one of the best things about being a guy is that The World is Your Bathroom. That sounds so cavemanish and outdoorsy, I really like the thought. My girls chuckle when I say stuff like that…but still wish I would learn to close the bathroom door.

 

 

Photo attribution: By Martins, Tito (my cam)
Book drawing: Aged Parent from Great Expectations

Filed under: Dad stuff

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10. High School Regrets

Happy graduation to all the high school graduates out there! As Tina mentioned yesterday, to help celebrate we will be highlighting a few things about our high school years. Should be fun! Plus, comment each day for chances to win the $25 Amazon.com gift card Tina is giving away!

This is me when I graduated high school. Sorry it's blurry. Anyway, I think one thing we can see from all these high school photos, regardless of how fuzzy they are, is that I had bad hair. I'm not sure if this is just the way it is, kind of like how no matter how hard we try to choose bridesmaid dresses that are actually pretty and can be worn again someday (yeah, right), or if it's just me. I slept in curlers or braids to give my straight hair more volume and oh, man, those bangs! Straight across and puffy, not a good look! Additionally, I sometimes wore a bow in my hair when I played sports (don't even get my husband started on that one).

In the next photo, you'll see the front of my alma mater, Araphahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado. I'm here with my friend, Amy, showing our school spirit. Yep, big hair. And I chose to share the (bottom) photo of us in our fancy dresses (big hair again) because prom is another huge highlight of the high school years. However, since I didn't have a boyfriend, my girl friends and I would grab a few guys from other schools and go in a big group. At the time, I was sad no one asked me, but now, I realize going with friends might've been more fun anyhow. So while I regret my high school hair-styling choices, I don't regret going to dances with friends.

Now it's your turn! (And don't be shy; there's $25 up for grabs!) If you've already graduated high school, is there something that at the time you were happy about but now you regret (like your hair) or something you regretted back then but now are happy about (like going to dances with friends instead of a boyfriend)? If you're still in high school, what about your junior high years?


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11. High School TLC

My senior picture.
This week we're celebrating high school seniors and graduation. High school graduation feels like forever ago, and I've done so many crazy things since then. On the day of my graduation, I planned to go to Columbia University in New York City to study architecture and eventually become a world famous architect like Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, or Robert A.M. Stern. But plans change. Here's what really happened:

Went to Columbia, University of Colorado, back to Columbia, SHSU, and Tufts. Lived in New York, Colorado, Missouri, Texas, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oklahoma. Wanted to become a lawyer, architect, environmental biologist, actress, muralist, scenic artist, teacher, professor and finally writer.

My graduation picture.
I often wonder what my friends have done since high school. I'm not in touch with most of them, but every so often I hear from one. Sometimes I try to track someone down on Facebook or something. I know my best friend is married with babies. Many of my friends are still in or around the town where we went to high school.

I always had bigger plans than my friends. I wanted to go farther away, do more exciting things, be a bigger name in the end. Maybe it's because I grew up moving around the country, so big changes didn't scare me. They still don't, obviously, since I'm about to move across the country again. (Seattle here I come!)

I've always been a planner, but I've also always been willing to let me plans change. And I'm definitely happy with how my plans are working out so far.

So, what are/were your plans when you graduate(d) from high school? Big or small? Close to home or far away? Did you/are you/will you accomplish them?

Hugs,
TLC

PS. If you want to see more embarrassing high school pictures, check out my post from High School Week back in 2008. Tina, Marley, StephHeather, Dona (sort of) and ex-Buzz Girl Simone shared, too.

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@teralynnchilds
12. Hats off to the Class of 2011!

Congratulations to all of the graduates in the Class of 2011! I bet you thought you'd never get here. Hats off to you for your accomplishment and best wishes in your future endeavors where ever they may lead you.



I remember being in middle school and counting ahead to the year when I would graduate. It seemed so far in the future. Now, I look back and it seems so far in the past. Why, when I graduated in 1885...errrr, I mean 1985, the members of the class of 2011 weren't even a twinkle in their parents' eyes.



Even though Tera already posted a link to old photos of me, I'll go ahead and toss some up.

Here I am last year when I visited "the hill," where Pike Liberal Art School sits in Troy, Alabama. The campus has changed quite a bit, but there was still the same familiar feel on the soil that I walked for twelve years.

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Here's my senior portrait. Keep in mind, this was back in the days when thick eyebrows and girl mullets were the fashion. LOL!

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I had twenty-eight (28) people in my senior class. We were a really tight-knit group through our years together from first grade until twelth. It seemed as if our world would end being "busted up," but so many people have gone on to wonderful lives. Careers that include, the military, lawyer, policeman, several school teachers, nurses, and even a district judge! Then there's little old me...the published author. Who'd a thunk it? LOL!

Here's our senior portfolio. I'm on the top line because I was a class officer. This is hanging in the hallway at my alma mater, along with all of the other classes. (Check out the big hair on everyone!) Sadly, there's a prayer hand notation on one of my classmates who passed away.

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Actually, when I left high school for The University of Alabama, I had planned on getting a degree in psychology and then going forward into medical school. That all changed after my freshman year at Bama when I my creative juices took over in my communication and writing classes and I longed to go into marketing/advertising/public relations. Now *that's* a switch!

That's the great thing about this time in your life. You can change your mind. You can try on dreams and ideas and see what fit. The only thing that matters is that you discover who you are...and who you want to be...and don't let anyone or anything hold you back from your dream, whatever it may be.

So...congrats to the class of 2011! I wish you success and happiness!

Hugs,
Marley = )

8 Comments on Hats off to the Class of 2011!, last added: 5/26/2011
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13. Decisions, Decisions... for the Graduate


We’re celebrating graduations this week on the Buzz Blog.  To do my part, I'm posting a few photos from senior year, including my prom pic with my best guy friend back then, Michael -- what a cutie!

For me, senior year was a little weird.  All of my best friends were a year or two ahead of me in school, so after they left, it was time to make new friends.  I spent the year hanging out with my peeps from my drama and art classes, or the kids (like Michael) I worked with at the local fast-food joint.  Yes, I was a drive-thru queen that year. 

It wasn’t a bad job.  The people (mostly from other high schools) were fun, and it was only embarrassing when the kids who didn’t have to have after school jobs came into the place or whizzed through the drive-thru.  It was great to have a little spending money and to get some work experience, even if it was handing paper bags of greasy food out a little window. 

I could tell you so many stories about the shenanigans that went on there -- The grill boys who blasted the song “Hell’s Bells” after closing to annoy the very conservative manager.  The night some guy said lewd things into the drive-thru speaker to the girl taking orders, making the high school football star that worked with us so mad he nearly crawled out the delivery window to rip the creep's face off.  The day an ex-boyfriend who’d unceremoniously ditched me rolled through on his Vespa to pick up a burger.

It was a YA novel in action all around me.

Anyway, when graduation rolled around, I set my sights on going to the local liberal arts college.  My dad was a single parent who owned his house, so financial aid was really limited for us.  I basically chose a school we could afford.  I had finished in the top ten percent of my class, was a National Merit Letter of Commendation winner, and got a partial scholarship based on my art skills and plans to major in film, but somehow though, when I learned that the boy who was right behind me in the class rankings was going to Dartmouth, I questioned why I hadn’t applied to any Ivy League schools -- that maybe I’d set my sights too low.

Through that summer, I thought a lot about the purpose of college, about wanting to learn in a focused and collaborative way.  My chosen school, The Evergreen State College, seemed like it was the right choice after all.  I realized it didn’t matter what anyone else was doing -- it only mattered what was right for me.  (Good realization, kid!)

When I arrived at Evergreen in the fall and took my first drawing, photography, and creative writing classes, I felt at home.  And later, when I started my film courses, I really dug in.  By the time I graduated college, I knew one thing for sure -- I

6 Comments on Decisions, Decisions... for the Graduate, last added: 5/27/2011
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14. Graduation has Come and Gone!

Here they are my friends…fresh from the reason I’ve been AWOL, graduation photos from the class of 2011! Congratulations to all the graduates.

Oh, yeah! She did it!

Love the mortar toss. All those head germs!

Somewhere in that sea of maroon is my graduate. Can you find her?

YUM!! I was on a diet, so I only ate the frosting that fell off the spatula after serving each piece:D.

A little tug of war with the honors cords. She thinks she won…I think we tied (get it? Sorry, I know that was really bad).

So that’s what we did this weekend. How about you??

 

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15. I have a lot of catching up to do here because it’s been a...

















I have a lot of catching up to do here because it’s been a busy few weeks with the end of the school year.

It’s strange but here in China most students are not actually around campus for their final semester of school. As second semester seniors they are expected to go off and find jobs and internships and generally get all the experience they should have been getting all along (and of course still pay for a semester of school while doing it). It is a little bit of a sad time for them because it is confusing, scary and I imagine lonely being away from all of your friends right when your college life is coming to an end.

I was on my own one night for dinner when I ran into a group of students I hadn’t taught since my first semester here. They were back to pick up their diplomas and were having one last dinner together. They kindly invited me along and we had a nice time with lots of toasting and a melancholy mood. Then we went to the field that plays a central role in most student’s lives. There they lit and sent lanterns off into the sky with their prayers, wishes and desires to combat, what seems to them now, an unstable and difficult future. It was a very beautiful moment and I really appreciate them sharing it with me.

















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16. Goddard Commencement Speech – text and citations

So I spent a good chunk of the day today at Goddard College which is up the road from me. I was invited to give the commencement speech for their MA in Individualized Studies Program. They graduated ten people and had a terrific ceremony including a singalong to the tune of the Muppets’ Rainbow Connection, a group of drummers during the processional, origami creations given to the graduates, and a lot of schmoopy speeches because when you graduate ten students, everyone gets a chance to be on the microphone. It was wonderful and heartwarming and I was so pleased to be a part of it. I gave a fifteen minute speech that I probably ad-libbed out to twenty minutes. Unlike most of the talks I give, this one was written out word for word for the most part. I was asked by a few people for the text of it so I’m tossing it here, adding some links to things, and people can link to it, copy it, whatever works. Thanks to everyone who hosted me, and congratulations again, graduates.

Hi and thanks for having me here. Congratulations to all of you, I’m honored to get to share this important and transitional moment with you.

Like you, I went to an alternative school, Hampshire, and am similarly interested in personal vision and radical thinking as the brochure says that you are.

By way of introduction, I tell people I’m the most famous librarian in Vermont [not as fancy as you might think], an “internet folk hero” dedicating her life to eradicating the digital divide in the US and helping turn libraries into their democratic ideals free from the influence of bad technology, bad people, and bad laws.

It’s as true as any of the other “who I am” explanations. At some level, realistically, what most people in the world know about you is what they see, what you tell them, maybe combined with what they can corroborate elsewhere. It’s important to have a good story and in the age of limited internet attention spans, it helps if it’s short. Wikipedia calls me an internet folk hero (and no I didn’t write that myself though I suppose I could have) and I like that & I’m sticking to it. It’s not actually so tough to be a folk hero, and I think it’s one of the natural paths from this sort of starting point, where you are now. I’ll talk a little about how I got here.

Part one is framing

I’ve got slightly different answers to the “who are you” question depending exactly on what’s asked.

- what I do for a job

(“um I run a big Internet community”)

- how I spend my time

(“I stare out the window and look at birds in-between answering a lot of email and making Keynote slides and reading books for hours in airports”)

- what I love doing

(“I teach email to old people… no seriously it’s the best thing there is”)

but I’m one of those people with a poor life/work balance, or maybe a great one, depending on whether you think that your small-w work and big-W WORK [your calling, your passion, your raison d'etre, whatever you call it] should be the same or different.

Mine are the same: I love the democratizing power of the library and the internet and share it with as many people as possible. I lucky that I get to do this for a job … but I did some work to get to this place, and also some not-quite-work. And the good news for you guys is that for the most part you now get to spend some time watching yourselves, out in the great wide world, figuring out what your Work actually is. It’s a time

9 Comments on Goddard Commencement Speech – text and citations, last added: 8/11/2011
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17. One High School Senior’s To-Do List

High school seniors are too busy to spend their final year ruling the school and terrorizing freshmen. As Youth Advisory Board member and high school senior Caroline Marques explains, they are swamped preparing college applications, having that last... Read the rest of this post

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18. Graduation Lessons

Oh, yay! One day left in May and it’s mine!

I love May. May is spring rains and jasmine trailing around the fence. It’s wild-crazy freedom and singing at the top of your lungs, “School’s out for summer!” It’s joyous, exciting, hopeful graduation days!

I love those wonderful beginnings that graduation brings. I even enjoy commencement speeches. Especially one like Neil Gaiman’s keynote address to The University of the Arts.

Now, honestly, I’m an unabashed fan of Neil Gaiman. I love his novels, his picture books, his graphic comics. And when I saw him speak here one rainy evening and saw his kindness to the kids in the audience, I sort of crushed on him even more. So I would love whatever he had to say. But as it happens, you do not have to be an unabashed fan to love what he had to say. You don’t have to be a writer, either, but there are some really useful bits for us.

If you’re a freelancer, you’ll want to listen extra-carefully when he imparts his Secret Freelancer Knowledge. And you don’t want to miss what he considered his best piece of advice ever that he received from Stephen King. You’ll probably find it interesting that there are problems that come with success as well as failure.

And perhaps most interesting of all, he recommends that you make mistakes. I agree wholeheartedly—and I have the mistakes to prove it.

My first short stories were horrendous. Stunk with a capital S. But that didn’t keep me from sending them out. And then, a contest judge felt compelled to point out just how much one of my stories stunk. I learned from those mistakes—and my short stories improved.

I have a HUGE file of Chicken Soup essays that were rejected. But eventually, after lots of head banging on the desk and rewrites, I figured out what I was doing wrong. Now, my file of Chicken Soup essays that have been accepted is almost as huge as the rejection file.

The novel manuscript that I have revised over and over and over again has nearly brought me to tears (Okay, that’s a lie. I have literally cried.). But with each revision, with each critique, the corrections have made the novel stronger. And I hope, someday, to see it published. That’s when I’m going to throw my own joyous, exciting graduation celebration!

Boy, I really, really hope it’s in May.

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19. Grads On Parade

Just part of something I’ve been working on…

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20. Thank you to Jim Barnes

I’ve had my phone number now for several years. So when I started to receive calls from several health insurance companies, a car dealership and a job service asking for Mr. Barnes, I was rather confused. Turns out the man used my number on several online forms. Perhaps, he’s dyslexic and switches numbers around and his number is close to mine. Maybe he’s out to get me. Or, many, many moons ago my phone number was his and he still uses it because he doesn’t want anyone to know his new number. Any way you slice it, these kind of calls were annoying to put it mildly.

Today I graduate from Full Sail’s Graduate Certificate program in EMDT and I couldn’t be more proud. To celebrate, I have changed my phone number. I will be very selective who I share that number with this time around. No mentioning online or handing out business cards. If folks want to find me, they can find me right here and use my email. I’m online all the time anyways.

Good bye Mr. Barnes. I hope one day you find that health insurance you seem to seek. You have taught me assertiveness as I told off callers. You taught me patience as calls sporadically came in whenever you decided to have fun filling out forms online. You taught me tolerance for irritations and interruptions. You might have even give me an outlet to let off steam. I have learned my lessons. Your work is done here.

 


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21. Highlights From My Last VCFA Residency

Graduation HatsIt’s official. I’ve graduated from the Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in writing for children and young adults! It’s been a vigorous and wonderful writing adventure and I’m proud of all that I’ve achieved.

My final residency was glorious (I love this community), stressful (I had to give my own lecture and reading), endlessly inspiring and a fabulous send off into the next stage of my writing life. There’s always more to learn, but I look forward to applying all the tools I now have. The following are a few final tid-bits of writerly advice that I gleaned from my last residency.

Highlights From My Final VCFA Residency:

The Writing Process:

  • Writing is messy, magical, hard, and requires a daily leap of faith.
  • A novel is a hundred ideas or threads that are all braided together.
  • You don’t have to write a perfect sentence every time.
  • There is danger in rushing toward the fun bits of our story. Slow down.
  • Self congratulatory cleverness can be lethal.
  • Several things can be true at once. There are no universal truths when it comes to writing.
  • You can’t hide from pain if you want to evoke pain.  Sometimes the fear of censorship is really about protecting yourself from being vulnerable.

In Regard to Your Reader:

  • Don’t tell your reader everything. Give them 2 + 2, but don’t give them 4. Make them work for it and become involved in the story.
  • Tension happens on the page between your characters. Suspense happens between the pages, it’s the interaction of the reader and the book.
  • Look for the illusive quality of your work, the weight and felt presences. The ghost within the work that the reader will feel but not articulate.
  • Do your character’s choices empower your reader?
  • If you were telling your story out loud in front of a group of 10-year-olds, what would you keep and what would you cut? You’d probably cut more than you think.

On Plot:

  • Ask yourself what charge every action in your story carries.
  • What is the promise whispered to your reader in the first pages? Can/does your story fulfill that promise?
  • Every novel starts with a coincidence, after that no other coincidence will be believable!
  • At the end of the book we are looking for catharsis, redemption, that “good cleaned out feeling.”

WritingOn Writing Picture Books:

  • Look for contrasts and opposites when you write a picture book.
  • Sometimes we know how a book ends, but it is the HOW that is important. How do we get there is what will bring a kid back for re-reading.
  • Animal characters can be easier to access for kids, because they aren’t influenced by gender, race, etc.
  • Pack your sentences. Say more with less.

A VCFA residency is full of a thousand musings, genius thoughts, inspirational quotes, and new ways to think about craft! I will dearly miss my bi-yearly residencies. Thank you to all the faculty, students, alumni, administrators, and friends that make this amazing education possible! It’s been a wild and wondrous ride.

Now… to the writing cave!


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22. Dr. Seuss: Sparkle, Inspire, Pop!

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Oh' the Places You'll Go, a couple of new editions have been released. This awesome book now spins, sparkles, and pops.

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23. Graduation Gifts: Inspiring Kids’ Books

Confucius once said, "Where ever you go, go with all your heart." With this in mind, I have selected the following books based on their ability to inspire.

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24. Monday Music - late for Graduation!

Yesterday, my baby graduated from high school... To commemorate, I am posting the final song of her favorite show - Glee:



(here is her very *own* ukulele - a graduation gift from one of her grandmothers..)

Here's the long, graduated walk... :-)

Happily done! (and so glad to see the boyfriend again. It's been 2 hours!)

Here's the Jr. High band director - her most influential teacher. Her desire to go into Music Ed stems directly from her experiences learning from him.

Yippee!!

2 Comments on Monday Music - late for Graduation!, last added: 6/17/2010
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25. Get Some Humor Here!

Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.
Leo Rosten


My grandson, Ricky, was going to the Senior Ball, and this was photo opportunity time on the front lawn for two of his grandparents. A neighbor yelled, "Get away from the garage sale sign!"


Then I yelled, "No, stay there!" And he did. Ricky and I both had the same insight at that moment. This would make a rather silly photo. I didn't ask him to lean on the sign, which made it an even better photo. Who would ever wear a tuxedo to a garage sale? Shop for bargains in a tux?   

Humor is the instinct for taking pain playfully.
Max Eastman


Ricky has gone through a lot of medical procedures in his life, but he has a rich sense of humor. I think that is partly due to all of the pain that he has experienced.   

If you could choose one characteristic that would get you through life, choose a sense of humor.
Jennifer Jones


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