Hard Work Pays Off for Gen Y

Cheryl offers: I frequently hear people talking about our young generation graduating from college these days. Many times the comments just aren’t generous. My teaching experience at SMU has been just the opposite, so I’m often puzzled by this apparent gap in perceptions. The story coming out of Indiana from the University of Notre Dame to be precise is just another reminder that today’s young people are hard working, smart trailblazers. Katie Washington, will be the first black student to graduate with the honor of being the class valedictorian. She’s a biology major with a minor in Catholic social teaching carrying a perfect 4.0. And I can tell she’s a leader; her comment regarding her honors tell it all. “I am humbled. I am in a mode of gratitude and thanksgiving right now.” Does that sound like someone who feels entitled, is lazy, or lacks a work ethic? Not to me. And if you think this is no big deal, think again. Research tells us this is a monumental accomplishment because being a woman of color “combines the stereotype about race with gender stereotypes to present even greater challenges for women” according to Women and Leadership by Barbara Kellerman and Deborah L. Rhode.  I cannot fathom how much hard work, determination and guts achieving this great honor must have taken this young woman. She’s off to study medicine at Johns Hopkins and some day she’ll likely be a great researcher or physician. I can only hope to live long enough to be the recipient of her good work.

One thought on “Hard Work Pays Off for Gen Y

  1. Paulette Turner

    Perceptions about GenY (Millenials) and whatever else we call them are too often generalizations. Your comments about Katie Washington remind me that there are always trailblazers in groups and we need to continue to look for each human beings’ unique characteristics that make them thrive and excel. It is refreshing to see talented individuals rise to the top…and I’m thrilled that you mentioned Katie’s ethnicity. Until such time that we are all color blind in this country (which I can’t imagine in my lifetime, but do see some positive trends from the Millenials!), we need to recognize every stride made by those who have been under-represented in society…and we should acknowledge the differences that make us as a human race so very blessed! Women and ethnic minorities are still catching up!!


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