Off one stage and on to another

Graduates finish UB prepared to overcome this era's challenges

The school year is coming to a close, graduates are making their way to the stage and summer days are approaching. After finals, the immediate future can look nothing but bright, but the future further out can be bleaker.

We - college students today - have not come of age in the most hospitable of environments. Teenage years bracketed by seemingly endless war and dire recession have made some jaded - about jobs, the environment, global politics and our place in this increasingly complex world.

What is the role of 20-somethings in this rapidly changing world? And what change can we really make in places so hostile to differing perspectives, particularly from what can seem like hubristic kids with bright eyes and big ideas?

Generalizations are often overly simplistic and always problematic. There is little one could say about the amalgam of outlooks this generation possesses. But one thing is doubtless: the horizon of our collective and individual potential is boundless.

Our surroundings - be they hostile, turbulent or staunchly stagnant - do not and cannot limit our creativity and determination.

Technology has broken down any walls that limited past generations. The door between any individual and the world has been flung open, and with the fall of that barrier has come only more possibilities for us to make our voices heard.

The proliferation of democratized communication allows for self-learning and self-teaching in ways never before experienced. It is up to us to not only express our own ideas, but also learn from the perspectives of others.

College is a time for development - of our minds, perspectives and selves. It imbues anyone willing to be open and receptive with unforgettable experiences and unparalleled quality and scope in our outlook.

Immersing ourselves in new ideas and different opinions gives the opportunity to gain from the insights of others in powerful ways. A diverse outlook improves an individual's position and offers a wide range of ideas for how to address and correct the world's most pressing issues.

We are told our dream jobs are unattainable, our goals are lofty or utopian and our perspective limited by age. But those who criticize our age group often fail to see the strides we have already made, the power of dreams held amongst many and the perspective gained from quality experience.

If any lesson can be gleaned from college and taken into the world beyond textbooks and lectures, it is simply this: before worrying about job security and climate change, take a moment to believe in your own abilities and fortitude.

The problems we will collectively and individually face in coming months and years may seem bewildering, even insurmountable. The first step to meeting any of these challenges is believing in your ability to do so. With education and experience both received and lived, and with the perspective attained and expanded by our ever-increasing access to technology, our generation has in its grip the tools to change the world.