The Next Chapter
Yesterday, I got a wake- up call. It came in a simple white envelope. The return address had a name from my past. Debbie Roberts had been in my graduating class from Jacksonville University in Florida. I smiled in remembrance of the smart girl with big eyes and brown hair who was always so helpful. I wondered about where she was and what she was doing. I couldn’t wait to open the letter, so while still in my car with my 19 year old daughter in tow I ripped open the invitation to the rest of my life.
It was a letter inviting me to donate to my undergraduate institution, we all get these letters, but the remarkable thing, the wake-up call was what the letter announced. The letter said that it has been 30 years since I graduated from that beautiful place; my launching pad.
I repeated the number over and over again until my daughter sarcastically asked how many years it’s been since I graduated. I laughed and told her again and she told me that I looked 30 so I should get over it.
“I’m not bothered by my age,” I told her. What amazed me was the amount of time that has gone by.
I remember the day like it was yesterday; it’s easy because my graduation was exceptional. Dr. Linus Pauling, the winner of a Noble Prize and The Noble Peace Prize and the only person to do so, was the graduation speaker. I had not planned to go because my family couldn’t afford to attend. Sally Meyers, the head of Women’s Housing at the time and my boss (I was an R.A.) informed me that I had to go, that they were my family as well and they wanted to see me graduate. I reluctantly gave in and received a real lesson of how sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do because of those you love but when you do, you get just what you need.
That’s what happened when I attended. Unbeknownst to me, I was the recipient of the coveted President’s Cup for Leadership. The award is given every year to an outstanding student who exemplifies leadership in academic and social life. As he handed me the silver cup, Dr. Linus Pauling bent his towering frame over and whispered in my ear; “You are going to do great things.”
Yesterday, I looked at that letter and realized that in 30 years I have tried to do just that. I’ve tried to be a great friend, sister, daughter, mother, sociologist, lecturer, writer, teacher and student of life.
My question to you and to myself today is what’s next?
If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done.
What’s the next chapter of your life? What will be your legacy of greatness? Will you be a great friend, parent, neighbor? Can you be a great mentor or manager to someone who needs a friend? Decide to listen, to read, to learn and be great at it.
What’s next from this day on?
Be you, Be well, be Great!
Bertice Berry, PhD.