Thursday, May 30, 2024




Remember, a graduation diploma is only a ticket to get into the game


Sam Houston is the publisher of the Hood County News. He is also an actor, author, playwright, performer and entertainment producer/promoter.



I make a point of seizing every opportunity to be around young people. I love to listen to their enthusiasm about the future and their aspirations. I am not trying to cling to my youth. Frankly, the train carrying my youth left the station so long ago, it may have been a stagecoach. I do not watch the Kardashians on TV, nor do I listen to Beyonce on my radio. But I find being around young people is invigorating, and at the same time can sometimes be a somewhat amusing.

Graduation is just around the corner and a lot of graduates are going to step across the stage and then walk straight into their future. On the day of my graduation from college, I was sitting in my room in the Delt House, when the father of one of my fraternity brothers walked in. J.T. was an oil man, and I had worked for him in the oilpatch the previous two summers.

He glanced around the room and then said, “why are you hiding out in here, college boy?” It was J.T.’s oilpatch sense of humor, and I knew I did not need to respond verbally, but simply stand and shake his hand and smile. He then asked if a “working man” could get a drink. I got a bottle from my desk and poured him two fingers of bourbon. When I handed him his glass, J.T. looked me in the eye and asked, “What are you going to do after graduation, son?” and then sat down waiting for my answer.

I responded that I had been accepted to law school and planned on starting in the fall. He nodded his head with approval and then said, “You know, that diploma you’re going to get later today is nothing but a ticket to get in to play the game.”  I had to let that one sink in for a second, but the look on my face undoubtedly revealed I was a little puzzled by his statement.

He leaned forward, placed his hand on my knee and very slowly said, “Right after graduation is when school really starts. An education is a wonderful thing, and a diploma will get you a job, but then you gotta keep it. I know you think school has been a challenge, but you haven’t seen anything yet. There will be long days, long nights, sacrifices, and having to do your job when no one appreciates you or congratulates you for what you did. It is hard. About two weeks after you get hired, nobody is gonna care what grade you made in College Algebra or Political Science; all they are going to care about is if you can do the job.” Those words from J.T. really stuck with me. Over time I learned just how right J.T. had been.

Just a couple of weeks ago a young intern at the newspaper was lamenting how difficult finals had been and that he was stressed out. I broke the unfortunate news to the young man he would look back at college and finals with a smile and realize the rest of his life carried considerably bigger and more difficult challenges. After hearing my words, the young man hung his head and shook it forlornly. He thought he had been through the tough part. I had to smile because in the years ahead, the young man was going to have a heck of a surprise.

Graduates: Life is tough. There are no participation trophies. You will have to prove yourself each day and nothing, not one single thing, will be given to you. You’ll have a ticket to get in the game, but then you need to perform.  I am confident you will.

Thought for the day: Take pride in how far you’ve come and have faith in how far you can go, but do not forget to enjoy the ride. | 817-573-7066, ext. 260