Northwestern Alumni Share Advice with Graduating Seniors

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Northwestern Alumni Share Advice with Graduating Seniors

As the Class of 2017 joins the Northwestern alumni family, we asked our community for advice for its newest members. Graduates from as far back as 1953—and a few parents—sent their thoughts. Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

It gets hot under that medieval garb. Bring a cooling fan. —Michael Haines ’11

Be nice to assistants. They are the gatekeepers. —William Schmidt ’79

Max out your Roth IRA! —Charles Tokowitz ’17

Don't get sick. —Jennifer Ansari Skasko ’95

Do what you love and never, never, never give up !!! :) —Sally Sylvester Sears ’04 P

Reach for the stars!! —Larry Dellefield ’53

Few talk about the challenges of transitioning to the professional arena and going from the top of the world to the bottom of the totem pole. Be humble, learn from your mistakes, work hard, ask lots of questions, and know that there is much you don't know. —Evan Levine ’03

Write thank-you notes. Lots of them. Send one to every person who interviews you. Also, plan reunions with your NU friends, whether on campus or not. They'll be some of the best friends you'll ever have so work to keep them. —Elizabeth Milam Moreno ’00

Remember how invincible you feel today. You'll need the memory as you move through life. Cherish the friendships you've created here. They'll be the ones to remind you that you are still invincible. —Charlene McNary ’89

Cherish memories of your happiness and success at NU, but be grateful too for your times of hardship and struggle. These strengthen and prepare you in profound ways for future challenges. Be patient with yourself and kind to others. Ask for help, stay inquisitive, and read for pleasure. —Helen Cregger ’87

After all these years striving towards the end goal of college graduation, many of you go out into the world suddenly with the single goal you've been working towards complete. What now? Some people have further specific goals, but not everyone graduates knowing “what they want to be when they grow up.” That is perfectly fine. You never have to settle on one thing. Try things, put yourself out there. If you don't like it, you can try something else. Life is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the ride and all the stops along the way—from the goofy tourist traps taps to the insanely gorgeous vistas, there are so many things to see and try! —Tisha King Havens ’96

If you are fortunate to graduate with a lucrative career after college, make a long-term financial goal. In a few years, you'll feel great when you have the option to finance your first home, put yourself through graduate school, take some time to experience the world, or marry the love of your life. Money is not the source of happiness, but money makes it really easy to help you make choices to live the life that makes you happy. —James H Kim ’16 MS

Be gracious and appreciative. Be kind and friendly to everyone in your company, from the shipping room to beyond. And the hardest: ask for help when you need it. Best wishes from ’92. —Caroline Paulison Andrew ’92

Travel as much and as far as you possibly can—geographically and intellectually. Gain experience and perspective by engaging with people from different places and backgrounds than yours. —Ramsay Ringo ’90

Keep in touch with your friends. It's a gift of a lifetime to have people to have loved you through thick and thin since you were 18. It will mean much more to you when you are 50! —Carrie Knight ’90

"If four things are followed—having a great aim, acquiring knowledge, hard work and perseverance—then anything can be achieved.” —A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (—submitted by Lois Lolo Ross ’76 MS)

Take yourself off of all the NU listservs, otherwise you'll get emails about Off Campus Housing and Dillo Day for years after you lose your NU email password. —Ray Stubblefield-Tave ’13

Travel. Do not be afraid to fail (now is the time to take risks), thank your parents, call your grandparents, and stay close to your friends. Oh, the best is still yet to come! —Christine Bradley Pratt ’94

Remember a minor interest now could redirect your whole life plan. Keep your options open, and stay in touch with your friends from NU! —Dominic Powell ’08 MMus

Don't be afraid or shy about standing up AND working for what YOU believe. And defend anyone's right to voice their opinion. —Bob Moore ’88, ’89 MS

Listen to your gut. You know yourself best, and only you can decide what path is right for you. Trust yourself, and best of luck! —Kasha Roseta Baker ’00

Take advantage of all the opportunities for learning available to NU alumni. Keep reaching out to people and making new friends. —Barbara Hague ’70, ’71 MS

As you go forth, don’t forget what it’s like to be poor and how privileged you are. Take the opportunity to use your education and advantages to help the underprivileged, because you never know where your path might lead. Use your empowered status to do great things! But don't forget to always bleed purple. —Yoon-Hee Hong ’08

You should enjoy your choice of a career. Keep looking until you find something that fills that need (this doesn't mean remaining unemployed). —Marion Klingler ’81

Empower yourself. Don't wait to be empowered by others. Empower yourself by figuring out a goal and a plan to make it happen and pursuing it doggedly and resourcefully but with an open mind to improvement and change. Be curious and think critically. Meet new people. Find ways to learn continually in any form possible. Be honest with yourself about your weak areas -- turn them into strengths. If you find there is something you don't know, find a way to learn it. These steps will put you ahead of a whole lot of people out there. Congrats on graduating NU! It's an accomplishment that will always serve you well. —Mollie Fromstein Katz ’85

Don't buy into the chicanery, false narratives, and politically “correct” definitions of "social justice" or revisionist history. Think critically analyze well, and love all tradition. Do not be tolerant of intolerance, even when the person or group is outside of those considered “protected.” —Michelle Bender ’66

Be brave. Explore. Listen. Learn. You don't know everything but you have tons to offer! —Andrew Parks ’85 MMus

Don't forget to ask your parents how to do stuff. We know things! —Steven Hartstein ’85

Make sure to pay off your student loans before your own kids go off to college. Yes, it's a legitimate concern that needs consideration. — Colin S. Hare ’00 MS

Be three things: Humble, hardworking and hungry (to learn). —Sean Jensen ’98

It's a tough transition. But, take risks and do what you've been dreaming about. —Kathleen Mitchell ’93

Make decisions that will honor seven generations: the three that preceded you, the three that will follow you and yours. —Garry A. Ogden Sr. ’77

Follow your true north to self-discovery; it's the only way to "success." —Leslie Stenull ’00 MMgmt

Always strive to succeed through others ... sheer force of will is not the best path to long term success. —E.J. Donaghey ’02 MBA

Be humble and gracious. You will be learning every day for the rest of your life. —Monica Hurst ’08

Practice good citizenship every day of your life and maintain a global perspective. —Tannaz Rahman ’77 MS

Pay off your student loans as quickly as possible. Live simply so you can save for retirement and for your kids to go to college. —Courtney Butler Anguizola ’98

Don't leave. Stay there! —Mark Kilduff ’06 MS

Research. Vote. Hold the government responsible. —Nancy LaBoe Ash ’71

Vote, damn it! —Henry J. Brandt ’76

Be deliberate! Create your own happiness! —Michelle Coussens ’85

Be true to yourself! —Joy Bourgeois ’86

Travel. Take risks. —Debra Harvey ’79

Keep Learning. —Robert Cooper ’63

Be kind to people! —Christine Kelly ’69

Do not set out to be a people pleaser. Be true to your authentic self. Start looking on the inside for most of your answers. Get as much quiet time as you can to be alone with self to get to know you better. … Learn to have a balance in life. Remember the more you have and go after. U will have to do just as much to keep it. Count up the cost especially if u go after stuff. Let me stop. One more thing. Remember you are always a part of Wildcat family. Much love sent to you and your families. Go Cats Go .

Oh, yes! How can I forget to tell my baby, Matthew Harris? You are a winner no matter what. And I am so very proud of you and your decision. Even though I made it for you. LOL. Love you, son, with my whole heart. —Tina Stokes-Harris ’17 P