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This month, thousands of Central Illinois students will graduate, moving from grade school to junior high, from junior high to high school, high school to college and, finally, from college into the so-called "real world."

Some adults will graduate, too: from one job to another, one family to another, one neighborhood to another, one city to another.

Graduation isn't so much a certificate as it is recognition of moving from one step in life to another, taking lessons learned and applying them toward a new opportunity, and is often the case, a new challenge — one to be embraced not avoided.

The key is to not shy away from either the opportunity or the challenge and, instead embrace it, knowing mistakes will be made along the way. But hopefully, they are mistakes we learn from.

In 2007, Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, then dying of cancer, gave a lecture entitled, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." He used personal stories to teach and enforce lessons we all can learn from and utilize.

The lecture, in its entirety, is available on the university's website at www.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch and a number of other locations. Pausch's lessons, highlighted here, recognize the hard work of Central Illinois' newest crop of graduates:

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

When you do something badly and nobody’s bothers to tell you, that’s a very bad place to be.

Your critics are your loved ones telling you they still love you and care.

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

Brick walls are a chance to show how badly we want something.

Brick walls also are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.

Wait long enough and people will surprise — and often impress you.

The best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they’re learning something else.

Help others.

Have fun.

Decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eeyore.

Never lose the childlike wonder.

Loyalty is a two-way street.

Ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.

Never give up.

Hip is short term. Earnest is long term.

Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.

Don’t bail.

Anybody can get chewed out.

It’s the rare person who says, 'Oh my God, you were right.'

When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.

Show gratitude.

Be good at something; it makes you valuable.

Work hard.

Find the best in everybody.

And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

A lot to consider, for sure. And time is on your side. In fact, you have your whole life ahead of you.

But, for now, we'll just say congratulations and good luck to all of Central Illinois' graduates who are about to take that next step to wherever life leads them.

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