Essential Information for the College Bound -- Spring 2009

Which School?

You will live with the answer
the rest of your life.

Taking The Next Step
12904 Mizner Way
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 790-5462
email: Robin Abedon
web site: TakingThe NextStep

Recently, I found myself uncharacteristically glued to the television on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to observe the graduation ceremonies taking place at the University of Notre Dame. To be sure, I was interested to see how President Obama would be received as an honorary degree recipient and the keynote speaker in light of all the controversy that had been sparked by his invitation from this eminent university. I was pleased to see that the ceremonies went smoothly with little disruption. However, I was inspired by Notre Dame's example of the amazing power of higher education.

When Father Jenkins, President of Notre Dame introduced President Obama, he spoke of the importance of talking to those who differ with us. He brought attention to the Second Vatican Council's call for respect, courtesy and love "for those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters."

President Obama urged Americans to consider the views of others with "open hearts, open minds and fair-minded words." He acknowledged that students are entering an uncertain and troubled world but was hopeful that, "one of the benefits of the wonderful education you have received is that you have had time to consider these wrongs in the world, and grown determined, each in your own way, to right them. And yet, one of the vexing things for those of us interested in promoting greater understanding and cooperation among people is the discovery that even bringing together persons of good will, men and women of principle and purpose, can be difficult.

"Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side? Remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame."

That Sunday afternoon reinforced my personal vision that a university must provide a diversity of skills to navigate a complex world. In these troubled economic times, parents are rightly concerned as to how the college years will lay the groundwork for building a career that will lead to financial security. They may question the value of a liberal arts education. For some, studying philosophy, history, literature, world religions, sciences and languages may seem superfluous. However, it is studies in disciplines such as these that give us the tools to live in a larger world, that have enabled the 2009 Notre Dame graduates to accept the challenges set forth by Father Jenkins and President Obama.

A college education, at its best, allows students to think about the world, where it has been, where it is now, and where it might be going. It allows young people to be open to new ideas, to discover themselves and their place in this world. I do not minimize the importance of preparing for a career, but I am ever hopeful that the preparation will include studies in the humanities that will lead to greater understandings of those, as Father Jenkins stated, "who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters."

As my students in the Class of 2009 go off to college, I hope they will have "the benefit of an extraordinary education" - such as President Obama described the education received by the graduating class at Notre Dame - at the college of their choice. I look to them to graduate enlightened citizens of the world ready to make it a far better place. Indeed, that is my hope for each of the students I am fortunate enough to guide.