Hopes and Dreams for the Class of 2026

As I sat there, in the audience filled with proud parents, I watched my five-year-old fiddle with her gown and hold her capped head high. When her teacher moved the tassel from the right to the left side of the yellow cap, my oldest daughter became a pre-K graduate.

This class of chubby-cheeked, bright-eyed and energetic five-years-olds are our future. Our future high school graduates of 2026 and — all things willing — future college grads of 2030.

So many questions filled my mind. What will these precious children grow to become? Firefighters, teachers or doctors? How will technology change as they grow up and affect them? Where might they go to college? Will they still find time to play and laugh? Will they work to save the planet? Reduce the deficit? End world hunger? Or, might these problems be solved before they are old enough to inherit them?


I hope: that our children learn the difference between right and wrong, and understand that we all make choices and those choices make a difference. That they realize, for better or worse, that their actions can have a profound impact on others around them. That they maintain their innocence as long as they can, even when they are teenagers and long to be older and independent. And, that they don’t just pursue happiness … they actually catch it.

I hope: that their teachers, kindergarten through college, inspire them to seek out knowledge and instill in them an intellectual curiosity so strong that we know longer fear our children are behind the rest of the world. That they never lose that sense of wonder or the way their eyes light up when they discover something new.

I hope: that our schools stop cutting programs such as art, music and physical education so that our children can experience an awakening of the senses and enjoy all that life has to offer. That we all work together to improve the health of our children, making childhood obesity a distant memory.

I hope: that parents take a more proactive role in their children’s education, growth and development, so that teachers can teach and not have to parent. And, that our children learn to love learning and never stop learning. Ever.

I hope: that my daughter never loses her love of being with her family and always remembers how much she is loved. That she appreciates what she’s been given, and works hard to set and realize goals. That she develops courage, confidence and humility, and that she remembers that true beauty comes from within. That she lives the life she wants, finds balance, embraces who she is and never takes one day for granted.

What are your hopes for the future?

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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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