Cassius Cover May 2018
Graduation caps thrown in the air

Source: deliormanli / Getty

Class of 2018, you taught us more than you know.

We find ourselves facing one of the most tumultuous times in recent political history. We have a president obsessed with wiping away the hope of his predecessor who leans on divisive rhetoric that’s stirred a hornet’s nest of white supremacists. Climate change threatens the earth with vicious storms that pound the nation and leave families struggling in the wake of their destruction. Women’s bodies are being policed, while Black bodies are being overpoliced to the point of death. Those bodies include a young boy killed for holding a toy; the residents of Flint, Mich. who are still waiting for water after four years; and the people of Puerto Rico, whose island is ignored, unsupported, and in the dark.

You’ve drawn on the lessons of the past and used them as guided, educated stepping stones for the future. And thanks to that slight glimmer of hope, you’ve afforded us a future that will be in good hands, if we persevere.

But you, Class of 2018, you were the light. From high schools, undergraduate classrooms, and post-grad programs, you spoke up. You hit the streets in protest against police brutality and marched in droves for women’s rights. You consoled the students of Marjory Stoneman in Parkland, Fla., and walked out of your classrooms to show this administration that enough is enough. You’ve drawn on the lessons of the past and used them as guided, educated stepping stones for the future. And thanks to that slight glimmer of hope, you’ve afforded us a future that will be in good hands, if we persevere.

Chance The Rapper at Dillard Commencement

Source: Joshua Williams IV / Courtesy of Dillard University

And within all that fight, that respect for those who fought before you—like Rep. John Lewis, Harvard University’s 2018 commencement speaker—y’all show us your swag. You set the trends, crowning Howard University alum Chadwick Boseman a Hollywood King. You took Kanye West to task for his uneducated gaslighting, and you taught us to make sure you cop those Air Maxes before you’re left in the dust. Your joy, Class of 2018, is just as important as the trials you were forced to face in uncertain times. Your #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackBoyJoy are signs of a young people undefeated.

It’s been more than a decade since I moved my tassel to the side in Washington Square Park as part of NYU’s graduating class of 2004. And although I learned many lessons during my time on campus, it’s the words of my advisor on my first day of orientation that still resonate with me today: “With an NYU degree, comes a great amount of power and responsibility.” And so will yours.

My life has taken so many turns since that sunny day in May. Some thrilling, some scary, some incredibly happy, some incredibly heartbreaking. And while I’m still very much figuring out my way as a young person in this world, my only piece of advice for you is to know that it’s okay to not have it all together. Know that you will meet many iterations of yourself at different chapters in your life, and that’s okay. But explore every step of the way—that’s how you’ll find your purpose.

As you design your graduation caps and prepare to march across the stage while your parents beam with pride, know that you’ve earned a tremendous amount of power with your accomplishment. Now, what will you do with it? That’s a question that only you can answer. There are so many avenues and doors, paths and outcomes that stand before you.

But don’t just take it from me. Below, read some advice from CASSIUS teammates. Keep making us proud, scholars.

“You most likely won’t get your dream job straight out of college, so you can get that idea out of your head. Also, know that you’re not a failure if you don’t. You’ll get there in time. For now, lean into wherever the journey takes you and use the tools you gather along the way to prep yourself for where you want to be.” -Stephanie Long, News & Culture Editor 

“I hope you didn’t let school get in the way of your education.” -Bruce Goodwin II, Men’s Lifestyle Editor 

“Wing it, cause it’s all not going to go according to plan.” -Bernard “Beanz” Smalls, Photographer and Tech Writer 

Life after college requires more initiative and planning than you can ever imagine. The career you want is out there, but you’ll have to strategize, network, and speak up to claim it. The business you want to build is attainable, but it will require you to troubleshoot challenges from financing to scaling—no one is going to do that for you. Most importantly, you have to figure out what success looks like in your life. Some of your biggest victories will come with consequences that feel like defeat in the moment. Some of your biggest losses will feel like wins—until later. It’s up to you to strategize, rebound, and stay focused. There will be no map for your life after today. There will be no syllabus. No dean. No RA. There is only you. Choose to win. Plan to win. Work to win. The world is yours. Go and get it.” -Tia Brown, Senior Lifestyle Producer