Class of 2020, you had an unworthy end to your final year of high school.

Or perhaps you received a parting gift that few young people get: Time to pause and reflect. And lots of it.

You’ve had this time, when the world as you knew it shuttered, to think about what you want to do with your time going forward.

You are, I have noticed in talking with you and writing, editing and publishing stories about you, much more confident and savvy than I was 30 years ago, when I graduated from high school.

You may have not yet realized your power, however.

Remember these 10 simple words — ones I spoke to my class on my graduation day: “IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME.”

What is it you want to change or do? Whose life will be better because of you?

Are you disappointed with the way our country’s leaders have handled this pandemic?

You have the power to change who leads, or to lead others if you desire.

Seeing how we have responded to this crisis, do you want to make it so fewer people have to suffer if we find ourselves facing a similar battle in the future?

A single person can make a difference, using science or medicine, simple compassion or ingenuity. You can be that person.

Do you want to see violence, injustice, racism and ignorance disappear from your world?

There are so many avenues you can take to fight or change whatever it is you want to.

Are you inspired to teach and change the lives of those who come after you?

You’ve seen many examples of those influencers in your own lives.

Do you want to create beautiful art or music, or have some other talent to share with the world?

There’s no goal too small or humble, too large and lofty.

Raise a family or be someone’s family, find your calling.

It’s within your reach.

It’s all within your reach.

Congratulations to you. You’ve finished the first step toward whatever it is you want to do.

Now take another.

Editor of Pikes Peak Newspapers, Michelle Karas has called the Pikes Peak region home for five years. Contact Michelle with column or story ideas, feedback and letters to the editor at

Editor, Pikes Peak Newspapers

In June 2019, Michelle became editor of the four Pikes Peak Newspapers: Pikes Peak Courier; The Tribune; and the Cheyenne and Woodmen editions. A Penn State journalism graduate, she joined the Gazette staff in 2015.

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