When I graduated pre-school, I wanted to grow up to be the Little Mermaid.
After elementary school, I stuck with the aquatic theme but decided that Marine Biology would perhaps be a more lucrative—and realistic—career.
As I was entering high school, my career plans had changed to "move to New York City and be a Rockette."
Later, I was accepted to two universities with wildly divergent majors—Elementary Education and Marketing. I went the Marketing route and proceeded to change majors twice in the first semester. I later graduated with a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Communications.
Today, I sit in my office at the Pennsylvania Department of Education as Communications Director writing this blog post. Although my story is not particularly unique or groundbreaking, it serves as a reminder to today's graduates that your future is what you make it.
Each new chapter in our educational journeys could be compared to a chapter in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. The aspirations we hold at each juncture are informed by our past experiences and serve as a point-in-time snapshot of who we are in that exact moment.
Whether you know exactly where life will take you as you cross the stage at graduation—you know which college you're attending, you're entering the workforce, you're joining the military, or countless other pathways—or you are still undecided about your future plans, remember that you have the freedom to chart your own course.
You've worked hard to get where you are now, and we at PDE want you to celebrate your achievements. Reflect on the knowledge you've learned, the skills you've earned, and the things that you are passionate about. Imagine how those experiences not only shape who you are now, but what you will become.
Maybe you're a future educator, or a future marine biologist, or a future communications director. Maybe you're something completely different—a future welder, doctor, or horticulturalist. Whichever path you pursue, pursue it with conviction and faith in your beliefs.
No matter where your story leads, it's your story, and we are #PAProud of you.
Watch a special video of congratulations from Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin.