Advice From From Next Year’s (Maybe) Commencement Speaker

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Susan Dromey Heeter

My friend Christine's lunch

By Susan Dromey Heeter.
Joyful Musings

Hello, Good Day, Greetings Readers o’ Joyful Musings!

Astonishingly, I was not invited to be a commencement speaker at any graduation this year, so this week’s column is a preview of my remarks prepared for graduation season of 2018.   I’ll be ready to go. Know I will be available but expect to book quickly!

Susan Dromey Heeter

Welcome, Graduates!  And congratulations on all of your achievements.  You’ve worked hard, studied hard, spent countless hours working up to this moment. I am honored you’ve invited me to speak! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today I muse joyfully on ideas and suggestions that may complement your already wonderful, full lives.

First, learn Spanish.  Truly.  Es dinero en el banco, money in the bank.

By the time you are my age, 29, you’ll find knowing even un poco of Spanish will serve you well – in employment, in travels, in romance, in joy.  And certainly, it’s lovely to speak any other languages but Spanish is the key, la llave.

And keep it simple, amigos, put Spanish subtitles on the next time you watch Breaking Bad or Parks & Recreation, invite your Latino friends to speak with you in their native tongue, embrace diversity and the joy in making mistakes – you’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn.

Learn how to drive a standard.  You never know when you might want to make a quick getaway, have an option to buy a fabulous five speed, might want to shake things up and pretend your station wagon is speeding down the German autobahn.

And the bonuses are plenty – people are not as apt to borrow your car, you won’t be tempted to drink coffee and text while behind the wheel and the five speeds are, let’s face it, far cooler than any automatic.

Put down your phone.  Lose your phone. Have screen free days, weeks, months and years.  You’ll be amazed at what you can see, hear and, gasp, READ, when you’re not staring at that tiny screen.  And document every moment simply by being present in it and not posting it to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat.

Look people in the eyes. Listen. You have enough pictures already. Yes. You. Do.

Make your own lunch. Bring it with you. You’ll save thousands of dollars and eat healthier. Be like my colleague Christine who dumps whatever she ever has in her fridge into a huge Hannaford shopping bag and brings it into work.

Today she has taco shells, grapefruit, a nutra-fig, a banana and a mango. She’s not purchased lunch once. Ever.

She is my hero and taught me that you don’t need a pretty lunch bag, cute compartments or anything complicated to save money and eat well.

Finally, laugh. A lot. At yourself. At life.

It’s all fleeting and absurd at moments. Enjoy those moments, laugh joyfully, ridiculously, uproariously.

Be like my student Hunter who had tears streaming down his face as he could not control his giggles after his fellow student Jace said something so funny Hunter was the Jimmy Fallon to his Will Ferrell.

I did have to put Hunter out of class but secretly?  If he got nothing better out of my class that day than a laugh that brought him to tears, something is right in this world.

May you laugh to tears soon, graduates. Godspeed.

So, thank you, Joyful Musers for sharing in my speech! You’ve been a lovely audience; enjoy your own commencement of today and graduate while speaking Spanish, driving a five speed, eating your lunch out of a Hannaford bag and laughing so hard you have tears running down your face…

Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, writes “Joyful Musings” for Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters.  Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal  in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

For more information about, which is published online by the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, contact Nancy West at or call 603-738-5635

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