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Today is June 25, 2019


Advice for my graduating daughter

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

Daughter, it’s hard to believe it’s been three years since I wrote a similar letter to your brother. Children grow up so fast and no matter what we parents did, we are still left with regrets and wishes that we had done more. I remember like it was yesterday using candy corn to “bribe” you to sit in my lap. Now, just five days before your 18th birthday, you will graduate from high school.  

As I have watched you grow these past 18 years, I’ve noticed you are a lot like me. You are independent, self-sufficient, creative in both writing and music, you like being alone and most important, you don’t seek out the affirmation of others. You are comfortable with who you are and don’t mind the opinions of others. A glorious trait for someone to possess.  

Now you will head off to college for what should be some of the best years of your life. An opportunity to explore both the world and yourself. This next phase of your life will leave a lasting imprint as it puts the finishing touches on the woman you will become. You will make friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. But be careful. While it is a beautiful time and place, it is fraught with dangers and opportunities to make poor decisions. So, to help you avoid mistakes I and others have made, I’m going to give you some advice.

• Read your Bible every day. When I went to college my grandmother gave me a bible. In it she simply wrote, “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book. The choice is yours.”

• Go to church. You will find college and the world to be full of temptations. The best way to protect yourself is to meet regularly with other believers. There is strength in numbers.

• Choose friends wisely. Don’t be friends with someone because he/she is rich, attractive, popular, drives a nice car or for any other superficial reason. A friend is someone who should lift you up, help you out when you are down and not be judgmental but tell you the truth, even when you don’t want (but need) to hear it.  

• Do a kind act for a stranger, every day. And do it anonymously. If they find out who you are, it doesn’t count.

• Always be home by 2 a.m. Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m. Be in bed by then!

• Never take a drink from a stranger. Pour your own drink, and open your own bottle or can. Never trust what has been handed to you.

• Never go to a stranger’s room. Dorms and hotels have lobbies. A coffee shop is a nice place to meet.  Nothing good can come from you going to someone’s room.

• Guard your heart. As your father, I believe no boys/men are good enough for my little girl! But despite my feelings, I know the time will come when you find that special someone. Finding someone to share your life with makes it more meaningful, but choose wisely whom you give your heart to; it will be one of the most important decisions of your life. But, when you do give your heart away….

• Love unconditionally. Love doesn’t judge, it doesn’t keep a scorecard, it’s quick to forgive and slow to anger. When you find the right man, love him without conditions. Be warned that at times men are tough to love, but love him until death. Never waste a moment because tomorrow is not promised to you, only today.

• Change the world. I know that is asking a lot, but I believe in you. You are one of the most talented people I have ever met. You are an athlete, a scholar, musician, writer, debater. There seems to be nothing you cannot do. God gave you these gifts for a reason, and I believe God has a special purpose for you. You just need to put your faith in Him and take that leap. Don’t fear failure or rejection. Anyone who has ever accomplished anything of note in this world has dealt with both. Just have faith in God and the talent which He has bestowed upon you.

I’m not sure why, but for some reason I’m taking your growing up harder than when it was your brother. I know this is the natural cycle of life and it is time for you to move on and make your mark on the world, but never forget these two things: You will always be my little girl and I love you.

– Dad

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