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Society and the Unique Circumstances of 2020 Graduates

Society and the Unique Circumstances of 2020 Graduates

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By Dr. William Oliver Hedgepeth
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics Management, American Public University

The 2020 pandemic has created some unique living and working conditions for all of us. Music events have been postponed, and parties and other group gatherings at restaurants are cancelled. Weddings have been reduced from expensive, well-attended events to the groom, bride, a preacher and a set of parents taking cell phone videos from a safe distance.

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Similarly, many high schools, colleges and universities nationwide have made alterations to their 2020 commencement ceremonies and canceled speeches from noteworthy speakers. Some organizations are having virtual graduations, while others discuss holding the graduation ceremony in August or December.

But even without an in-person graduation celebration, the world still holds opportunities for 2020 graduates.

2020 Graduates Face a Unique Future

Students graduating this June of 2020 are living proof of a new category of graduates. You are going through an experience that those graduates from the Baby Boom generation to Generation Z can never own. No matter what you decide to do with your life by the time this pandemic is over, your decisions will be made with fresh, clear insight from the experiences that this pandemic has left you.

Your New Normal Is a New America

As a member of the class of 2020, you are graduating during some tough times in America. But we have lived through tough times before.

After WWII, for example, men and women returned to the U.S. to start a new way of life after all the hardships posed by wartime life. Family members at home also suffered from worry and wartime shortages. But like those people who became the generation known as Baby Boomers, you are inheriting a wonderful place to live, love, work and find new opportunities.

Yes, the shopping malls and some retail stores are beginning to experiment with reopening. But the COVID-19 virus is still here and taking hold of our citizens.

But look around at your home. You have been spending these last two months with all of your family. You may be a mom, dad, a son or a daughter.

With almost the whole world outside your home locked down, you have been given the unique opportunity to relearn who you are and to learn more about each family member. Even ordinary activities — such as playing games at home, having Zoom virtual chats, and talking with fellow students, possible employers, and employees — may have provided you with more insights about other people.

If you are getting training from your home, you’re most likely attending virtual meetings through Zoom or similar technology. You may not see the benefit of what is happening to you right away, but you soon will when life returns to normal.

2020 Graduates, Be Prepared to Be Tomorrow’s Leaders

Class of 2020, your dreams are yet to be, but they are unfolding all around you. You are building a life and will be the occupants of the new normal in America and the world. Others just like you are learning about their new normal in their own countries.

When the time comes for renewing relationships among our allies, our discussions will be affected by the common experiences from this pandemic. Hopefully, the outcome should be more positive for the citizens of each country.

You are the leaders of the future. Start planning, and use the special gifts you’ve been given to make it a better future for all of us.

About the Author

Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is a full-time professor at American Public University (APU). He was program director of three academic programs: Reverse Logistics Management, Transportation and Logistics Management and Government Contracting. He was Chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Hedgepeth was the founding Director of the Army’s Artificial Intelligence Center for Logistics from 1985 to 1990, Fort Lee, Virginia.

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