Preparing for Transitions


“In like a lion, out like a lamb.”

“April showers bring May flowers.”

Spring is a time of dramatic changes in weather, the cold hard earth softening and bringing forth new life … and endless clichés. Spring is not only the time of nature’s rebirth, it is also graduation season. As someone who has given scores of commencement speeches I can attest that avoiding clichés is nigh on impossible (so I tend to embrace them). We resort to them because they contain fundamental truths; graduating from high school or college is both an ending and a beginning, it is the next step on a lifelong journey. In short, it is a time of transition.

And we do not always do very well at transitions.

We know that they are a part of life, we face them all the time, and so we tend to assume that we can just roll right through, just another event in a life full of events. Or we allow ourselves to get too wrapped up in the moments of the event. Whether we look past the graduation or focus upon the minute details, we fail to contemplate and appreciate what the event signifies and the effect this change will have on our lives, parents and graduates alike.

Graduation is an opportunity to celebrate not simply the past accomplishments of our students, but their future as well. For many parents our child’s future success involves a very real diminishment in our direct role in their lives. We will never cease to be their parents, but now they must stand on their own. That may be scary for them and a point of grief for us. And that is OK.

So embrace your graduates and the uncertainty that this latest transition brings, because the brightest spring begins in the bitterest of winters — and today the sun is shining.

Written by: Christian Brady

Christian Brady is dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State, an associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and the proud father of a graduating high school senior. He has a blog at

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About Christian Brady

Father of Izzy and Mack, dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State, and scholar of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature.