More than 6,400 seniors graduated last Saturday with one common possession – an uncertain future. For many this is an exciting prospect, but for others, the country’s troubled economy makes graduation heavier than the weight of a diploma.

Paul Wong
Above: Governor Jennifer Granholm receives an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University last Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
Paul Wong
Right: Students make their way to the field before commencement ceremonies began.

“Actually, I’m a bit nervous about what’s next,” said graduating LSA senior Tyrone John. “(The recession) is what makes me nervous figuring out what I’m doing.”

The economy also has parents both worried and hopeful about the work environment their sons and daughters are entering into.

“Our son Paul is graduating,” said Bill Shrader, walking with his wife Marsha after the ceremony. “This happens every 20 years or so and each generation finds its way out of it.”

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who spoke at graduation, also had words of encouragement for the graduates.

“Indeed, gratefully, this is no simple world,” she said. “In just such times, I say, trust yourself and the ways you have learned of diverse thought, of openness to ideas and respect for others. … Perhaps the first job out is not the best, but hang on. It is not a question of whether we will get out of this but when.”

In spite of the difficult environment the graduates are entering into, speakers like University president Mary Sue Coleman emphasized important moral values that the newly-inducted alumni should prize.

“Every day, every hour, you will need critical skills you have acquired here to separate the informational wheat from the deceitful chaff,” Coleman said. “You have a deep responsibility to yourselves and to society to use your well-developed critical skills to allow this information to provide you with intellectual freedom, rather than a world of deceit.”

Granholm also encouraged those now in the work force to not quit with a diploma but continue to improve themselves.

“Maybe your diploma will ensure your success. But you better believe there’s a whole lot of people out there who possess a U of M diploma whom you have never heard of, and whom you never will hear of. I know it’s hard to believe, but … there are some U of M grads who are complete and total losers. Here’s my first bit of advice: Do not be one of them,” she added.

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