It seems as though our world is full of negativity and despair. The problems that we face as a society today seem so much more daunting, and in some cases more dangerous, than those of decades ago, or even a few years ago. Crime seems rampant; people seem rude; some folks around the world are targeting innocent Americans to kill; and several of our political leaders seem entangled with the law. One could easily conclude that we are spiraling out of control. With such tribulations, is there promise for our future? I believe there is.
While it may be true that the world is worse than it was, I am comforted in knowing that one of the main reasons many students come to FM is to help make a better world for themselves and their families. At community colleges, like FM, I see our student population, both young and non-traditional aged, working together -- working to improve themselves so that they can help improve our society and in turn, make a positive impact on those around them.
The vast majority of our students are doing good work and treating each other with respect. Of course, we have those few that get into trouble, and we address it immediately. Many times, these troubled students learn valuable lessons from their mistakes and they, too, want to better themselves and create a brighter future.
Having interacted with so many students, I find that they ask good questions. They look for ways to make the college better. They have tremendous energy and excitement for what is yet to come. It is a pleasure to witness. Not only do I see it with college students, but also with those in high school.
As President of FM, the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce asks me to participate on its scholarship committee. This committee presents five $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school students who must demonstrate excellent academic skills, participate in community and school activities, write an essay, and submit two letters of recommendation. Each year we receive up to as many as 100 applications for the five scholarships. It is very competitive. As we review the applications and subsequently interview the finalists, we have all been impressed with the successes of these students, the quality of their character, and their dreams of a brighter future.
It seems to me that the underlying foundation that propelled these students, and similarly many FM students, to succeed, has been supportive family and/or teachers. I say "and/or" because some have had difficult family lives but found themselves in a faculty member's guidance -- learning they have the potential to achieve their goals.
So why do I think we have a promising future? Because I have worked in higher education for nearly thirty years. I have seen thousands of students, both young and old, who decide to take the right path. I am proud to say that at FM, the environment we create every day is supportive and nurturing. Students who want to thrive do so in numerous ways.
As I look into the faces of our graduates at commencement each year, as I hear the applause of their loved ones as they cross the stage, I think to myself, "This new set of leaders chose to be here because they are committed to creating a promising future... We're going to be alright."