The Star-Herald

Sen. King urges UMPI graduates to take risks, ‘be honest even if it hurts’

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — One hundred and seventy students graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle Saturday, leaving with life advice from U.S. Senator Angus King.

On a sunny, mild spring day, UMPI graduates received diplomas for degrees ranging from biology to education to athletic training, with future plans including medical school, master’s degree programs and teaching careers in K-12 education.

Among the graduates were Jessica and Christopher Morley, a married couple of 16 years who took a non-traditional path to higher education while raising four children. Jessica earned a degree in social work with a minor in psychology; Christopher graduated in December with a business degree in accounting. Jessica is now headed to the University of New England’s social work master degree program while Christopher is searching for positions in business.

Before receiving their diplomas, UMPI graduates and their families listened to Maine’s Independent senator offering a commencement speech he titled “10 things I wish someone had told me when I was graduating.”

Number one, King said: “Take more risks, take more chances. The greatest impediment to your ability to achieve great things in life is that little man that sits on your shoulder and says you can’t do that.”

Aside from clearly dangerous activities, King said, “It’s okay to make a mistake.”

In suggestions two, three and four, King told the graduates to make a good first impression with new people; treat all jobs, including entry level positions, as “the most important job you’ll ever have;” and be civil on social media.

“Don’t write anything into cyberspace that you don’t want your grandmother to read on the front page of the Bangor Daily News,” King said.

Number five: “There is no such thing as a geographic or material cure,” he said. “If you’re unhappy in Presque Isle, Maine, you’re probably going to be unhappy in Denver, Paris or New York.”

“You carry your attitudes around between your ears,” King said. Someone might say, “‘Well, I grew up in Washburn, but boy when I get to Portland, then life will be great.’ It doesn’t happen that way,” he said.

“There’s no thing that’s going to solve all your problems. You wake up in the morning and you still have to pay the mortgage, your student loans and go to work.”

Numbers 6 is a related point, King said: “Attitude really is everything. It makes all the difference not only in how you interact with other people, but how you feel yourself.”

“When you’re angry, you need an attitude of fortitude. When you’re happy, you need an attitude of gratitude.”

Suggestions 7 and 8 were practical advice, King said. Keep a folded up $20 bill in a wallet for an emergency and “When in doubt, don’t get married,” he said. “The key phrase is, when in doubt.”

Number 9: “Be honest even if it hurts,” King said. “There’s no second chance on this chance. If you develop a reputation early in life for not being fully honest, for not being forthcoming, it’s very difficult to get that back.”

Finally, King said, “Always care for your friends and family because when times get tough, they’re all you have.”

King recalled a friend of his family who recently died and said he was glad he took time last month to visit with her for an afternoon. Quoting the Beatles song “The End,” King said, “The love you get is equal to the love you give.”

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