What is Your Most Enduring Life Lesson?

We congratulate all graduates, especially the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2013, which included the first medical degree students to have completed all four years of a new, innovative curriculum called Genes to Society. In August, we welcome the incoming class.

Think back to your high school or college commencement (some of us will have to think back further than others). Whether it came from a teacher, parent or BFF, what was the best advice you received when you went off to college in search of freedom and knowledge or entered the job world for experience and that first paycheck? For even more fun, post a photo of your graduation or prom. (Promise, we won't laugh!) Leave a comment below.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }


Alex July 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

"Never lose your creativity." - Mrs. McCracken


Lola B July 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm

" Never give up no matter how difficult things get "


Shannon Swiger July 29, 2013 at 2:24 pm

A piece of advice my aunt gave me during a particularly difficult time as a teen has stuck with me ever since: "Life is 1 percent what happens to you and 99 percent how you deal with it."


Patrick Smith July 29, 2013 at 8:53 am

When I started college, my dad told me something I've always remembered. "No matter what anyone else is doing, be yourself."

(my pic is my first student ID.)


Clint Morris July 26, 2013 at 10:39 am

Some of the best advice that I received came well after college. One of my mentors, Peg Cooper, Radiology Operations Administrator, told me to "get in the habit of saying yes to opportunities." Simple, yet phenomenal advice. Learning does not cease after the traditional schooling of HS & college. Regularly stretching beyond your comfort zone provides the opportunity for continual learning, growth and development.


George Keffer July 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

My mother gave me a plaque when I graduated high school. On it was the poem "IF" by Rudyard Kipling. I still have it, 39 years later. It made an impact and made me realize (unlike in high school), moving forward into adulthood, I don't have to follow the pack but it's important for me to be my own person and make my own decisions. My mother was an amazing mentor to me!


Maureen Ruby July 25, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I began working here in 1976 and at that time there was a bank in the basement at the Rutland/Monument Street entrance. There used to be stairs that led down to this Bank which was very convenient on Payday,(in those days,we got paid weekly and on Thursday.) One of the tellers at Maryland National Bank had a sign at her booth which read," It is nice to be important,but even MORE important to be Nice!" I have never forgotten that simple phrase and find that 37 years later the message still applies!


PAT D July 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Whatever I am going through, good, bad or indifferent, I always remind myself that "This too shall pass."


Kristen Dziedzic July 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

"It can only get better from this point on..."
I can't recall exactly who gave me this advice and it might just be because more than one person did, but it has stayed with me since. I was a full time student working pretty close to full time, exhausted and frustrated with life. Someone told me that it can't get any worse, it can only get better from here. I remember thinking that tomorrow will be better than today and that today is better than yesterday. Each day brought me one day closer to graduation and a new life!


Kelly Gray July 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

My parents gave me a stuffed Dumbo elephant when they launched me into the world so that I would remember the lesson of that Disney story. It just might be the thing that makes me different from everyone else that really matters. They told me" Just dont forget to believe in yourself, and you will be a success."


Cymantha (Cy) Governs July 25, 2013 at 11:36 am

So, mine is far less of a life lesson than a practical one that applies everyone once in a while.

One day in college I had a terrible case of the hiccups. A friend walked up and said, "I'll give you $10 if you can do that again." My hiccups stopped immediately. To this day, if I have the hiccups, I'll say to whoever is nearest, "Tell me you'll give me $10 if I hiccup again!" It works about 87% of the time (that's a non-scientific guesstimate).


Cindy Huesman July 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

My dad's actions (he was part of the 'Greatest Generation') regarding work and life demonstrated his advice to me. Those actions said things like: be on time; be dependable and reliable; always provide service with a smile; plan your work and work your plan; become well-educated; be a teacher; family first; be family-oriented; the customer's always right; accomplishments; make your mark in the world; be a leader; always have a goal; work hard; leave your work when the day is done; be independent; be loyal; be a democrat; have fun with your family, friends and colleagues; be friendly; serve God. My mother (also part of the 'Greatest Generation') supported those ideas and added: be creative, follow your dreams; follow your heart; don't let anyone take advantage of you; stand up for yourself; be good; love your family; charity begins at home.


Jacqueline Alvez July 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Gee, Cindy your parents didn't leave a thing out! That's why they were part of the Greatest Generation of all.


June August 1, 2013 at 9:41 am

Your parents launched you into adult hood with excellent words of encouragement. I too heard similar words of motivation. These words have encouraged me in life and my career to always provide my best in whatever God places in my path.
Thank you for sharing the "Greatest Generation's" powerful recommendations!


CF July 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

The best advice for those graduating from high school and wishing to attend university: "If you are going to drop $50k-$100k on a college degree, your degree choice had better help rapidly launch you into a productive career!" That advice was true then and it is especially true now.

For those freshly obtaining graduate degrees, we all have come to know it is a long, hard climb upwards and guess what? The views from mid-slope on up can be as beautiful and more enjoyable than the lonely, harsh, weatherbeaten peak at the top.

Lastly, this advice came from an old engineer, through my father to me: "Spend the first third of your life getting as educated as possible, spend the second third of your life being as productive as possible in gainful employment and then spend the remaining third of your life doing whatever you please."


Sonya July 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

The struggle that paid off
I recall when I was in undergraduate school at the University of Baltimore struggling with my statistics course. Therefore, I went to seek help from the instructor who was very understanding and wanted to do everything possible to make sure that I passed the course. She was willing to pass me in spite of me not understanding the concept very well. I stated to her that she was not doing me any justice by passing me just to be passing me because I needed to understand the concept for the courses that I had to take later.
The instructor was completely shocked to hear me make such a statement. She then stated, "Sonya you are going to do very well in your educational journey because you have the right mindset and are willing to take the necessary actions to succeed in spite of your struggles."

Education is a continuous journey and it does not matter when you finish as long as you finish.


Phyllis Kalar July 25, 2013 at 8:58 am

An early mentor told me it is just as important to look at each persons differences as well as our similarities. If we only look for those similar to ourselves, we will miss so much life has to offer.


Alan O'Neill July 25, 2013 at 8:38 am

When I was in early grade school, although I didn't know it at the time, I met my best friend. His name is Dennis, and many times over the years, he proved himself to be worthy of the title "best friend." He was there for me through thick and thin, and some of us know how tough high school and college years can be. When it was time for us to begin our college careers, he went away to med school, and I pursued computer science locally. We were both dedicated A students, with one significant difference. He was very focused on getting his MD/PhD in an abbreviated period. In fact, so much so that he stopped taking time for the fun things in life. His mother prodded him to enjoy himself from time to time, but he told her there would be plenty of time for fun after he completed his degree.

About 2/3 of the way through his education, I got the news. Dennis had lymphoma, and he wasn't doing well. A few weeks later, his family called and told me that he had died. I was devastated. Over the many years that Dennis and I were friends, I learned a lot of valuable lessons from him, the most significant of which is that balance in life is critical. You need to take time each day to do some work and have some fun because you just don't know whether tomorrow has you in its plans.


Kay Keesecker July 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

I'm sorry you lost your old best friend. When I was growing up along the way I got the message that only certain things mattered, like getting good grades, staying out of trouble, and the idea of keeping your nose to the grindstone to be successfull. Ultimately maintaining focus on only one sort of goal or achievement is very limiting. Later, when what society values changes, it can be a hollow victory. If there was once a "carrot," finding out it is not there anymore, is somewhat like what is described as a mid-life crisis: it is an opportunity to reevaluate your life and your direction and your values in a new context.


Dave Monroe July 25, 2013 at 7:03 am

A mentor in one of my jobs relayed to new staff "If you hate your job on the way home, you probably just had a bad day. However, if you hate your job on the way in, it's probably time to find a new job"


Laura Gandy July 25, 2013 at 6:21 am

My first best advice came from my dad - he was a machinist, and a very detail oriented person. He always told me "If you're only going to do a job half way, don't do it" . The other sage advice came from my first battalion chief "Kid, you can't save them all, but when you stop caring about the ones you can't, it's time to find something else to do."


Janet Anderson July 19, 2013 at 10:58 am

Mentors, family and friends have given me several valuable pieces of advice since graduating from the University of Maryland College Park. One of the most enduring is not to take sides, because who is on top today may be out of the game tomorrow.


Stephanie Shapiro July 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

A beautiful, joyous photo!


MC July 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Live large and with an open heart!


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