Literacy Volunteers of America Founder Ruth Colvin 2018 LeMoyne College Commencement Address

The following is the text of the Lemoyne College Commencement address of Literacy Volunteers of America Founder Ruth Colvin 5/20/18

LEMOYNE COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT – May 20-2018     Ruth Colvin


(Sign kdzqmhmf) Here’s my advice. Keep on doing this. You can’t read it?  Yes, I’m putting you in the shoes of a non-reader. Frustrating, isn’t it. But there’s a joy in reading something you couldn’t read. And I’ll give you that joy. Here’s the code. Think of the letter that follows the letter in the alphabet. What follows k, d, z, q, m h, m, f? – Read it. Keep on LEARNING.

That’s my passion, teaching adults to read, write, speak and understand English, but I had to keep on learning to do it. Count your blessings that YOU CAN READ, thousands right here in Onondaga Co can’t read.

Look back to your freshman days, just four years ago. You’ve come a long way and you’ve learned a lot. But are you going to stop learning? I hope not.

You’ve completed your bachelor’s degree, a big step forward, and CONGRATULATIONS to each of you. But what comes next?

Now look ahead – some of you will live as long as I have – yes, I’m 101. That means you have 70 to 80 years of learning ahead of you, and ideally it will be life-long learning.

There are many ways of learning – challenging new job, graduate study, reading, research, travel, learning from others. Also finding a life partner and starting a family. To get ahead sometimes you must take calculated risks as part of that learning. I’ve done that – some successful, some mistakes – but I’ve learned from my mistakes as well as from my successes. You are now looking for a career, a job, further study, but don’t give up looking for your “calling,” your passion. What are YOUR gifts and will they have real meaning?

Yes, I’m 101 but age is only a number – I just have a bigger number than you have –  and I’m often asked what is my secret for longevity, for starting a national program, for a happy family life. I wish there was a secret.

What have I learned? In looking back over my long life, I’ve found that God works in mysterious ways, planting seeds within our lives to prepare us for future ventures. Doors often opened up, but often they were slammed in my face. I’ve found that when a door was closed to me, it meant there was another open door down the road, but I had to keep knocking.

Long before your time, there was a song called “Three Little Words,” and those words were “I love you.” Those words meant a lot to my husband, Bob, and me for we were old romantics, but I’ve found there are many three little words that help me – “God is love,” “Don’t give up,” “The right thing,” “Live life fully,”  “Learn from mistakes” – you’ll find your own “three little words” to sustain you too.

I’ve chosen to work to keep a balance of life, each with 3 little words.:

  • Physical –NEVER STOP MOVING. I exercise daily, go to the gym, golf and swim weather permitting. Who said I like to exercise? No – only because I want this quality of life.
  • Mental –AN OPEN MIND – Listen seriously, Ask Questions, stimulating discussions, Search for the truth, but always with an open mind. Remember, it’s Life Long Learning.
  • Emotional – A POSITIVE ATTITUDE – that’s love, trust, and all those good emotions. I’ve gone thru deepest grief and rejections. We all have our ups and downs, and I’ve chosen to be positive and count my blessings.
  • Spiritual – HELP ONE ANOTHER –My faith in God is strong, but I have respect for those worshipping the Almighty in different ways, always looking for similarities rather than differences.

With the 70 to 80 years ahead of you graduates, and, you parents, the 40-50 years ahead of you, remember those three little words, NEVER STOP MOVING, AN OPEN MIND, A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, and HELP ONE ANOTHER to continue on that path of LIFE LONG LEARNING.

Your life can make a difference, for YOU are the future leaders of our world. You have the seeds of greatness. Nourish them by keeping on (show sign) LEARNING.

Thank you.