With college graduation season in full swing, members of the Vocabulary.com community collectively brainstormed #gradwords last week — defined as words you would give a recent college grad to set them up for success in life and work.
The list was gathered through comments on #gradwords posts on our blog, our Twitter account, and Facebook page, where we saw that freedom, money, job, interview, salary, belief, balance, hope, persistence, fortitude, perseverance, compassion, kindness, humility, equanimity, discursive, and perspective were top of mind. Congrats especially to vocabularian Sarah L., who interpreted the assignment creatively, writing: "Bamboo: be flexible, but still strong and rooted, when life throws you unexpected twists and turns."
Looking for some #gradwords from the pros? To get the #gradword conversation going, we made a list of inspiring words from 15 commencement addresses. The list included Anderson Cooper's advising grads to be indispensable in the workplace, or as Thomas L. Friedman put it, untouchable. Secret Life of Bees author Sue Monk Kidd suggested that "If you err, may it be for too much audacity, and not too little." Denzel Washington spoke of failure — "embrace the inevitable" — Barack Obama of legacy, Barbara Kingsolver of being earnest, and Carly Fiorina, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hewlett-Packard Company, of leading by empowering people to aspire.
The final addendum to our #gradwords week came from an unwitting source: WBUR contributor Carey Goldberg whose story, "This Is What Jill Abramson Should Have Said In Her Commencement Address," suggested the ousted New York Times editor might better have addressed Wake Forest University grads:
I regret to inform you that at the last minute, we at the University of Hard Knocks have added one additional graduation requirement: You must learn the meaning of the word ‘fungible.'
Fungible? It means "replaceable," as in you at work. Perhaps not the most uplifting thought for graduation day, but Goldberg was making a point. Stay aware of how fungible your job is and you'll keep focused on friends and family, while trying to "remain ever fast and nimble and flexible, always learning" in your chosen career.
Wait — did Goldberg say learning? Another #gradword to add to the list! College is over, but this, as you might have heard, is just the beginning of your education. And why not start with a little vocabulary...your next word, inspirational or otherwise, awaits.