Commencement speech from a twenty-something


It’s unlikely I will be speaking to a stadium full of eager students preparing to graduate anytime soon. But, as ceremonies near and party planning ensues, I can’t help but think about what advice I might share with the next generation if given the chance. What would I talk about?

What experiences could I possibly have had this early in life that would lend a hand to those about to enter the next step in their lives?

To the class of 2012:

In 2009, the late Steve Jobs told students at Stanford the only way to be truly satisfied in life is to do great work. President John F. Kennedy shared the importance of attitude during his speech during a graduation ceremony at American University in 1962 and in 2007; Oprah Winfrey used her own story to encourage students at Howard University to dream big.

I certainly don’t have the experiences of these prominent figures. Nor, do I have their influence. But, what I do have are my own lessons, and if choosing the most important learned since high school, it would be the ability to value change.

Most of you have probably experienced change in your lifetime in one way or another. You may have moved schools; you can now drive; you changed jobs – I did too. But, what I didn’t do was appreciate the change. After leaving the comfort zone you call high school, there will be times you feel awkward or uncomfortable. That’s OK. Embrace it.

If attending college, you will likely change your major, your living space, your wardrobe and hopefully your bed sheets. Change a diaper while you’re at it; you will thank me later for having that experience.

And, if you decide to move out of your parent’s house, your taste buds will change, too. Peanut butter and jelly on hamburger buns will become a staple food in your life in effort to save a few extra pennies.

Throughout the years, you will be surprised at the number of times you change your mind; becoming in touch with the person you never knew you were. Old friends may become distant memories and simple schedule may seem like an oxymoron.

But, while you’re riding the rollercoaster of life, remember who you are at the core and never let that change.

Because with change comes growth and as you learn more about yourself, it will become clearer how you can change the world.



Fighting breast cancer one tulip at a time

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Last October, I was moved by a conversation I had with a barista at Caribou Coffee about an initiative the company launched 17 years ago to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Rushing into the building, I practically jogged up to the counter that morning, failing to acknowledge the offer at the counter to support the initiative through the purchase of a special blend of coffee. Instead, I handed over my cash, grabbed my black cup of coffee and sat down. That was when a conversation between two women nearby pulled at my heartstrings; their own personal battle with breast cancer unfolding one word at a time. On my way out that day, I proudly purchased a bag of coffee.

Caribou Coffee, Facebook, breast cancer, tulip, garden, Amy Erickson

Photo credit: Caribou Coffee

Since my visit, I’ve learned Caribou Coffee continues to raise awareness about breast cancer and pay tribute to Amy Erickson,  a former roastmaster who sadly lost her battle to the disease. The company planted a garden filled with Amy’s favorite flower – the tulip – near Washington, D.C. last fall and invited customers to join the cause online. For every submission made via Facebook, a tulip was planted in support of finding a cure, expanding the reach and recognizing all who have been touched by breast cancer.

When you think of coffee as a product, community support may not naturally come to mind. But, when you think of coffee as a connector, it makes a difference.

Life is like a cup of coffee


A friend recently shared this video with me and I thought it perfectly summed up my hope for this blog: using coffee and its surrounding environment to highlight commonality between us, regardless of our differences. Enjoy.

coffee, cup of coffee, life