It’s the week after college graduation, which means it’s the first week in the rest of the lives of new graduates from Kansas State University. We’d like to address them directly and offer some advice.

First, we want to say thank you. We in Manhattan appreciate you choosing to come here, and for enriching this community. You bring energy, and inquisitiveness, and you ask good questions. Without you, our community is a great little small town in Kansas, but with you, it’s a world-class center of learning. We know that we’re lucky to have you.

Second, to those of you who are staying here either for more school or for work, we are very grateful about that, too. We hope you’ll call this home for the rest of your life.

But we also know that most of you will go off elsewhere, back to where you came from, off to bigger cities or adventures. We hope you’ll come back to visit, and come for ballgames and reunions and maybe to start a business or retire. We know most of you actually do love it here.

These are strange times, of course, what with a viral pandemic afoot. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye in the way we usually would. But you should know that we feel it just the same.

Now, about the advice we’d like to offer.

Never forget something that Manhattan and K-State stand for: Humility and self-deprecation.

We in these parts don’t get too big for our britches. We don’t think the world owes us anything. We don’t assume we’re a big deal.

We are, in fact, capable of anything. Note that a K-Stater just won a Pulitzer Prize. Note that a professor just got elected to the National Academy of Sciences. People from Manhattan and K-State are up to the highest standards in the world in nearly any way you want to name.

But we don’t let that stuff go to our head. We are a small college town in northeast Kansas. We work hard, and we do our best, we pull together when we need to -- say, in the time of a pandemic -- and we get the job done. We are grateful when we win, and when people help us, and we don’t get resentful or bitter when we fall short. We accept that, too, and move on.

If you keep those values with you as you move on, you’ll be fine. You can also learn particularly from the main lesson of this pandemic, which is that we are all ultimately reliant on each other. Self-reliance is all well and good -- and we’re in favor of it -- but in the end we are all in this life together. Don’t forget that.

So, to the K-State Class of 2020, we again thank you for choosing to come to our community. We wish you the best. We hope you’ll keep in mind some of the values you learned here, and we’re sure you will, and we’re sure you’ll do great, just as generations have before you.

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