Hub readers have advice for new grads: Be brave, give back, build a full life

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 July 2022 at 4:16 pm

‘If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning.’

Photo courtesy of David Klafehn: Kendall’s Class of 2022, which includes 62 members, are pictured before commencement on June 24.

We asked Orleans Hub readers to share advice for the 414 new high school graduates from Orleans County’s five school districts. We received nearly 300 responses on our Facebook page.

Carson Ferris-Zeolla: “Go see the world so you have stories to tell. Fill your life with experiences, not things. Remember that high school is only a small part of your life experience. It does not define you.”

Elissa Smith: “So many people saying leave the place that built you. My hope is that every person has the opportunity to see our nation and the world, but for those who are able – return home to give back, build up, and inspire the next generation to do the same.”

Cindy Makowski: “Get out there and do something. Try anything. Don’t be afraid of trying. If you like it great, if not move on to try something else.”

Bill Maryjanowski: “Go to a trade school. Become good at it. Write your own paycheck.”

Samantha Brooke Zinkievich: “Go to community college first for all your prerequisites and save money!”

Denise N Gene: “Please be the change that this country needs.”

Photo by Cheryl Wertman: Members of the Daisy Chain led a processional that included 99 Medina graduates during commencement on June 24 at Vets Park.

Diana Albone-Fulcomer: “Never stop learning! When an opportunity presents itself take it. If it does not work, learn from it and move on. Be kind always. Do what makes you happy. Make a difference and respect the differences in others. Laugh a lot. If you move away keep contacts with family & friends often! Just love life. You have the power to choose your happiness!!”

Joanne Heye: “Be brave, don’t let fear stop you from doing the difficult or the new.”

Lisa Neilans Blair: “Go wherever you want to in the world . . .it’s a great big place! But never forget where you came from . . . The small towns that you grew up in taught you many valuable lessons that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. Things like how to be a member of a community and how to take care of each other.”

Sherrie Balcerzak: “Become a productive member of society. Be a giver not a taker.”

Robert Palmer: “In general, go out and see the world. Build some skills that you can make a living from. Build a rich, full life for yourself, your family and your friends. But please remember Orleans County. Eventually come back, and do something good for the place that raised you.”

Jim Salatka: “Reach for the stars. Smash the barricades. Live like it’s your last day. Give God the glory. Make America Great for your kids and grandchildren.”

James Hults: “Whether you go to college, get an apprenticeship, join the military, or go straight to work, try to broaden your horizons and step out of your comfort zones. Our world is a very big place, go experience some of it.”

Sheri Dix Dent: “Follow your dreams and remember to stay humble and kind!! Best wishes to all you graduates.”

Jennifer Lee: “Don’t be in a hurry to move out of your parents’ house. It’s really hard out there. Figure out what your monthly bills will be when you do move out, and put that amount in a savings account for one year. By then, you’ll know what you can really afford, and you’ll have a good savings built up.”

Rochelle Nellist: “Be kind, be strong, be proud of who you are. Make memories. Collect experiences, not things. Life is short. Look for all the beautiful things.”

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dylan Clemons stops on stage to take a selfie after getting his diploma at Holley’s commencement on June 25. He is one of 60 grads in Holley’s Class of 2022.

Jamie Marie: “Find a job with a pension ASAP – Sheriff’s Department, railroad, UPS, etc. Retirement at 45 years old.”

Leighann Victoria: “Get an education in something useful and move out of State for a bit. See how other people live and think to get a different perspective. It gives you a more open mind (hopefully).”

Barbara Schmidt Smith: “Whatever career you choose, have it be something you love to do. That way you will never mind going. Also, remember you don’t have to die there. It’s just a job.”

Randy Smythe: “Stay in school; it’s dangerous out here!”

Bridget DiCureia: “TRADE SCHOOLS…. You don’t have to go broke before you learn a lifelong NEEDED skill!”

Brandi Hand: “Even if you come back to your roots later, leave Orleans County. You’re stuck in one place with one world view, please go out and explore. Learn about other cultures.”

Sandy Amedick: “Never stop dreaming. Never give up those dreams. And always keep that kid in you alive.”

Robin Wehling: “Go create memories & experiences. Learn a trade or college but remember your roots. Family is important.. stay close because they did everything for you.”

Carol Schildt Taylor: “Leave the county. See the world. Learn as much as you can. Return to Orleans County and make it better: open a business, provide a service, volunteer, marry and raise a family. Enter politics and work to make changes.”

Jon Winters: “Always be open to new opportunities and experiences. Never stop learning and growing. Find what you are passionate about and do more of it – that’s your purpose in life. Always be kind and compassionate – to others and especially yourself. Live every day of your life to the fullest and choose to make a difference.”

Brody Hoffmeister: “Follow your heart and passions, consistency & hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work. You will have times when you feel like you are failing, but don’t give up!! Stay humble and learn from people that are willing to help you get to where you want to go! Good luck, Class of 2022!”

Patti Shaw-Roberts: “Make your dreams actual goals and then go after them. Know your worth. Raise your standards. You deserve respect. Maintain your integrity. Save money. Create your own happiness. Don’t depend on others to do what you should be doing. Become fiercely independent.”

Christine Loss: “You don’t have to save the world to make a difference. Join a church and help out. Join a community group and help out. Decide what’s important to you and advocate for it. Be there… help…be present!!!”

Amy Suzanne: “Don’t make fun of the OC too much or forget where you are from. I have found the older I get, the most fair and genuine people are not from places that are shinier or look better. All that glitters is definitely not gold!”

Photo by Tom Rivers: These Albion grads walk to the football field for comment on June 24. From right to left include Luqman Cornick, Nicolina Creasey, Angel Cruz Cruz and Jason Dash Jr.

Theresa Tracy Brien: “‘You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.’ – Dr. Seuss. Always Be kind to yourself and listen to your gut. It’ll never steer you wrong. Congratulations!!”

Gloria Simmons: “Always keep God at the head of your life, and watch him work on your behalf. Attend a four-year school, leave the county, surround yourself with people who are positive and going somewhere in life. Remember your parents and the sacrifices they made for you. Always call them, and visit when you can. It is okay to outgrow friends and places, don’t try to bring people along on YOUR journey. Be open to diversity, the world is full of diversity outside of Orleans County. Pay it forward to strangers and always stay humble.”

Morgan Elizabeth: “Take your time choosing a career! Don’t jump right into college if you’re not confident in what you want to do yet. It’s OK to take your time. Start building your credit early so you can invest in a nice car and possibly a home earlier than normal. And (very random but I’m serious) take care of your teeth! Dental costs are no joke! Even with insurance.”

Jessica Allen: “It’s not a race vs your peers. Do things in your own time. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because they’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them. Live your life for you. Take the road less traveled. Live within your means. Travel to other states and countries. Lots of self care. Love often, forgive more, share and be kind. Make lots and lots of beautiful memories.”

Debbie Fuller: “Always put forth your best effort and give back to your community when you can.”

Walter Adams Jr.: “Take your time and plan your future. Don’t go straight into debt to unknown.”

Brenda Kelley Hale: “Never forget where you came from. Great things happened to people from small towns. This community loves and cares for each other. Give back to our small county. Congratulations and good luck.”

Photo courtesy of Lyndonville Central School: Lyndonville Board of Education President Ted Lewis congratulates his daughter Ella on her graduation. She is one of 52 students in the class.

Maureen Watt: “See the world, experience all you can. Decide what’s best for you and ‘JUST DO IT.’ But never forget to come back visit those who made you who you are.”

Jenn Nickerson: “Move out of NY, go explore take a break from school because what may be for some isn’t for all. Enjoy life and start your own adventures. Find who you are and what you truly want to be and never settle for less!!!”

Melissa Lynne: “Celebrate this milestone but BE SAFE when doing so! Remember those whose lives were cut short and act accordingly. Congratulations Class of 2022!”

Keely Foster: “You absolutely do not need to go to college immediately! Pause, breathe, get your footing. Most importantly: get out of WNY if you can! Explore the country or the world to expand your horizons. You’ll meet so many interesting people, it’ll be so worth it.”

Pete Sidari: “ALWAYS. BE. KIND!”

Maria Laudisi Purwin: “See the world. Make new friends. Experience new cultures. Follow your passions. Congratulations and enjoy the next exciting chapter. As Buzz Lightyear said, ‘To infinity and beyond!’”

Wendy Lee Snell: “Remember where you came from, love and appreciate it. Always try to make your home as good as where your journey began.”

Cathie Gottung Hogan: “In a world where you can be anything…be YOURSELF!”

Alishia Foss: “Don’t be afraid to take smaller stepping stones on your path than to leap for the next rocks that are bigger because the small ones are the ones to cherish.”

Amberlyn Robinson: “Never settle and explore the world while you can!”

Rob Muhs: “Travel the country, travel the world, get out of the bubble of Western NY. Realize just how small & insignificant one is in the grander scheme of things, but never stop trying to make a difference to what’s around you, your friends, your family, your town.”

Jeff Bidell: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t (fill in the blank with the one thing you really want to do, but don’t tell anyone about), then do it.”

Binh Hua: “Nothing wrong with wanting or having your cake and eat it! Try to pick something you enjoy or love doing. There’s going to be a lot of things that go right. There will be some things that go wrong, but just make small or incremental adjustments.”

Heather Colella: “If work is work you’re screwed. You should love what you do. Say no to everything that doesn’t help you achieve the goals you set for yourself, or requires you to move a boundary to accommodate someone else at the expense of yourself. Start every day with gratitude. Don’t let a single negative moment ruin all the other moments of the day. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning, and if you’re not learning, you’re dead. You do not need a college degree to be happy or successful. Use debt for leverage to make more money. Saving money for when you need it rather than investing it in your future is like buying tools only keep them in your shed, untouched, while using a butter knife to put together your new bird feeder. If it doesn’t make dollars it doesn’t make cents (sense), and never step over a dollar to pick up a dime. When you’re having the worst day of your life, volunteer time to someone or something who needs it, you can’t experience negative feelings while also contributing and feeling grateful. Always, always be your authentic self.”

Kaytie Tranquill: “Try to be as self sufficient as possible, learn how to and then grow a personal vegetable garden. How to build shelter, how to find clean drinking water. Go hiking. Learn how to hunt, know how to can goods and store food. Dig a cold storage. Always help someone in need.”

Austan Brown: “Get a trade and learn to be financially literate, you’ll learn things like it makes more sense to invest in stocks/ business ventures because leaving money in a savings account makes it depreciate in value over years of time.”

Wayne Teaven: “Live out your dreams through hard work and dedication.”

Alex Breuilly: “Don’t just assume that you will reach your goals. You should take the time to figure out what you want, write it down, create a plan to get there and constantly adjust to make sure you are on the path to be successful. Your goals are what you want – not what your parents want, not what your friends want you to do. It has to be something you can dedicate years to and still be as passionate about it as the first day you started.”

Joe Pellegrino: “Work for what you want, don’t expect an easy ride even when you’re in good times. Become familiar with an 401k, IRA and enjoy life – it passes quick.”

Tommy Walders: “Don’t let people rush you to pick one career. You have a lot of life to live and more than enough time to learn multiple skills and trades. Don’t ever be afraid to start over.