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A message for high school graduates

June 22, 2003|by Jo Ellen Barnhart

We have just passed through a special time of year - graduation season. Congratulations to all of you promising high school graduates. I am proud of you and now I must bid you a hearty welcome to my world. Consider the door flung wide open. See all the open arms that await you. Please, feel free to select from one of the many avenues you may wish to travel in the course of your life. Be sure to use all five senses to the best of your ability over, say, the next 10 weeks, because once late August rolls around, you are toast.

Yes, I said toast. And I mean browned to a golden color ready for butter. All the time your teachers spent telling you and telling you to be prepared for the "real" world, they meant every breath of it.

By real I don't mean reality television, which most everyone will agree is about as far away from reality as Tiger Woods can hit a golf ball. You can't really believe reality is being one of 12 women to be selected by some wavy haired hunk whose best effort at stringing words together in a sentence is, "Wow, you're a dish!" Pulleeeze!

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Here are some little nuggets of wisdom from the real world that will never make it on Fox or CBS. According to information from the Web site, America's Career InfoNet (www.acinet.org), there are 76 occupations projected to grow the fastest until 2010 requiring post-secondary education or training below a bachelor's degree. Among those opportunities: dental hygienists, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, registered nurses and biological technicians. Those positions can earn $39,700 a year or more. But, the big key is: post-secondary education or training. You see, big money is out there, but you need more than just the high school diploma you picked up this month. And wait, there's more to the story.

Let's make the big leap to a bachelor's degree or higher. Now, there are 151 occupations that will continue to grow to the year 2010. They include database administrators, physician assistants, personal financial advisors and market research analysts. You can see the curve continues to turn up; and that's a good thing.

Our community needs more and greater opportunity. We regularly discuss, in any number of forums, just how important education is, but we never really seem to find a way to put on finger on its importance. Well, according to the information outlined earlier, it appears relatively simple: more education, more money earned by the employee. That would suggest more opportunity for a community to grow, in a variety of ways.

Now as strong supporters of the graduates, mostly because we love them (and secondly because parents finally get a chance to make their old room that home office) we have to be prepared to encourage a little more. As opportunities continue to unfold, we have to be ready to point them out. And we have to do so in the best spirit and with strong conviction. Otherwise, more growth, the type our community is really looking for, may pass us by.




JoEllen Barnhart is assistant to the director for Frostburg State University's Hagerstown Center. She has three sons.

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