These are just four stories -- and I hear stories every day; stories that magnify the sacrifices that military families regularly face, of the courage and commitment shown, and of the hopes for the future.
What do you think when you hear "millennial generation"? If you're tuned in to either traditional or new media, the words that come to mind are probably not so good: perhaps self-absorbed, shallow, lazy, in debt, in trouble?
The Obama administration is now touting new programs to encourage apprenticeships. It has committed $2 billion to double apprenticeships (albeit from a low level) over the next four years. But these efforts will flounder if we do not rebalance our "mindset."
Higher education is a mature industry that is on the cusp of major transformations in the next two decades, and every college and university will need to prepare to maintain their quality, efficiency and relevancy in this climate.
All it takes is one minute to take the pledge -- one minute to use your virtual voice to declare that all people have the right to an opportunity to achieve more than what they may have been born into.
And as the nation scrambles to match the intellectual capacity of nations in the Middle and Far East for economic and national security interests, the tenor of the nation's conversation towards HBCUs has changed.
When you're in college, the "real world" may seem very far away. However, the decisions you make during your college career have a major impact on what happens once you graduate and enter the professional world.
I had the opportunity to meet with incredible young adults, ages 17 to 24. These young people are so resilient -- each one overcoming numerous barriers while juggling classes, jobs, family commitments and piles of financial aid paperwork.
Surely we need nurses and doctors, researchers and statisticians, investors and stockbrokers. Indeed, society soars on the coattails of such ambition. But the seas won't rise and the skies won't open if business school students take chemistry and pre-med students take accounting.
My deepest concern is the intention to rate colleges and universities in part on the earnings of graduates. The message this sends to our youth, and to our educators, is "Forget the professions which serve critical societal needs, but which won't make you rich."
Students all across the country are electing to take their first two years of college education at community colleges and transfer the credits to an upper-level institution, saving tens-of-thousands of dollars.
We all have that one thing in our lives we keep around without really knowing why. If you live and work in a big city, you may still have your car from the days when you used to live in the suburbs. At one time, the car had a purpose. But now? It just collects parking tickets and bird poop.
While it appears that the recent graduates on their parents' couch are an exception and not the rule, finding a first job appears to be a greater challenge today as the economy struggles to recover millions of lost jobs and absorb several million more workers.
We often overlook other benefits to higher education: quality of life improvements that deserve to be brought into focus, whether you're on the fence about going back to school or are just having a hard time appreciating the degree you already have.
There are proponents on either side who either say: 1) college costs too much and students don't really get that much out of it anyway, or 2) if young people want to get ahead in life, a college degree is essential. I am inclined to follow the latter dictum.
The Department of Education raises legitimate concerns about sticker price. The American public needs to be better educated about what this means for them. Higher education leadership must be prepared to address consumer concerns.