Advice from BVRalumni: A collaborative essay

Alumni Voices Advice

Written by BVR Contributor J.J. Gilmartin


As part of Alumni Voices, we asked nearly 100 BVR alumni to share their advice for current Beaver students. It turns out their suggestions, insight, and perspectives are useful for people of all ages. Rather than summarize what they said we decided to combine it (or most of it anyway) into one inspiring whole. We suggest reading it aloud in your best commencement speaker voice.  To learn more about the alum who shared the wisdom, scroll down to the links in the endnotes.


I don’t think I can offer anybody any advice.1 We’re all adapting. We’re all learning.2 There’s a lot of pressure to figure out what you want to do. I think it’d be better for the pressure to be lifted.3 It’s okay not to know. 4 Relax, don’t rush, take your time.5

Just stay positive.6 Keep the faith even if things don’t go your way right away.7 The pandemic has taught us all to stay true to ourselves and trust the little voice inside our heads.8 Use these crazy times to find a passion and really try to dive into it.9 Explore your interests.10 When you know what makes you tick, find every way possible to lean into that.11

Everyone has their own path.12 Do things that you want to do, not things that you think will look good.13 Try to focus on yourself and your own personal growth instead of constantly comparing yourself to your peers. You will be happier.14

Never be afraid to try things.15 Don’t try to be the best at everything.16 Dabble in everything you can get your hands on.17 Put yourself out there.18 Get involved with activities that may push you outside of your comfort zone.19 Take advantage of playing a sport even though you aren’t that good at it.20

Every opportunity that I’ve been afforded in my life creatively and work-wise has come from me taking a chance.21 Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. Even if you don’t succeed the first time, you can learn from your mistakes and meet new people.22

Take chances.23 Take advantage of all of the opportunities that you can grab.24 Take advantage of all the resources you have.25 Whenever something interests you, really dive into it.26 Follow whatever drives you.27 Don’t be afraid.28 Do not be afraid to tackle a problem or project differently.29 Your brain is special and unique.30 There are things that you may be able to do that no one else in the world can do.31

If plan A does not work, go to Plan B. And if Plan B does not work, go to Plan C.32 Life is hard and you need to have a lot of perseverance.33 If you really want something, no door is closed.34

Keep an open mind.35 Keep your eyes open.36 Expect the unexpected.37 Luck favors the prepared.38

Be kind. Don’t be afraid to fail.39 Don’t sweat the small stuff.40 All you need to have are a couple of teachers who you connect with and who are inspiring, a place you are comfortable in, and a few solid friends where you can stay up all night and talk about life.41

Be a part of a bigger community.42 Say ‘yes’ a lot.43 Get involved and raise your hand. Be eager and participate.44 Speak up and make a change.45 Trust your instincts.46 Use your intelligence, your skills, your privilege, and your education to think of the global picture and do as much good as you can.47 Help future generations in any way you can.48

Become a critical thinker and question the norm.49 We need a whole new look at the world.50

Work in the food business in some capacity. Once you have an understanding of the service industry, you can do anything.51 Choose the more technical classes. The engineer can do what the scientists do but scientists can’t always do what the engineers can do.52

Follow the impractical.53 Always think creatively. Try to take on the biggest challenges and create a path where there was none.54

Really treasure your time and the friendships you develop.55 You’re never going to meet people you’re not glad you met.56 You never know when you may need to call on someone from your past for assistance.57

People want to help and like to be asked for help, so don’t be afraid to reach out.58 If I was struggling or I needed help, I always tried to fly under the radar. That’s just not the best thing to do.59

Enjoy every minute of every day.60

Understand how lucky you are.61 Stay focused, respect the people around you, and if you have a dream then just go get it.62

Have fun!63

If you can remember one thing, remember to tell a story. Leave them raptured with your story.64

Stay confident. You’re a Beaver!65


Here’s who said what … 
Click a name to read more from that wise alum. 


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