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For the Graduate

May 24, 2017


A Diplomatic Wish for the Graduate:


Be a Leader, not a Star


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



As you stand quietly and confidently in your cap and gown,

I ask you to think before you toss that tassel to the other side.

Beneath the cooling shadow of the mortar board,

have you smiled with grace and gratitude?

If, in the wind, the tassel tickles your face,

will you laugh or just broaden your smile

as you take your place?

No matter how hard the wind blows,

stand tall–

I want a photo of this moment.

Click.  Now, you can move forward.

Can’t you?


Waiting, waiting, midst all the graduates,

are you running in place?

Are you glancing back

or looking ahead at your life?

I wonder.

Is that a tear on your face?

Is it a tear for all that you will miss

or a tear of trepidation for what may lie ahead?

Is what I see upon your face

not a tear, but a bead of sweat

for all the work you have done

and all the work that is before you?


Your hand wipes your face:

once again, you smile.

Momentarily, I know you are fine

and hope you will be for a long time.


Have you exchanged a word with the graduate at your right side?

Have you exchanged a thought with the graduate at your left?

You all will go in so many different directions

after sharing these four years,

this graduation day,

this moment.


As I watch you process into the arena,

I know that you are in a class

of leaders and stars–

not just leaders and followers.

I hope you realize

that while some stars are not leaders,

sound leaders will always shine.


Stars may not be diplomatic,

may not be kind nor caring;

but leaders lead with wisdom,

understanding, gratitude, and grace.

While I am certain

you sometimes will be a devoted follower,

I hope that you will be a leader

among followers.

I hope that in your chosen realms,

you will be a leader

who does not need to be a star.


However many stages lie ahead of you,

be assured that

your happiness, kindness, and success

may always lead

back to my smiling heart.


Congratulations to the graduate

you are today

and to the leader

you will be

throughout your blessed tomorrows!



Our best wishes to all graduates and their families,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


May 24, 2017, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. mfanyo permalink

    Thank you, Alice, for these wise and thought-provoking words. I will certainly share this poem with one very special high school graduate who was in my prekindergarten class fourteen years ago!
    Love always to you and Willow,

    • Mary–How nice to know that you will share this poem with a high school graduate who was once a pre-kindergarten student of yours!

      Enjoy the end-of-the-year picnic with your students on Thursday–Alice and Willow

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