Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Class of 2017 - get out and meet new people

Write to the Point


Last updated 6/1/2017 at 11:34am

It’s June and for many of us it’s graduation season.

I don’t need to talk about what a big accomplishment it is for a high school senior to walk across the stage to acquire their diploma and begin the next stage of their lives. Many high school students will go off to college — many are staying close to attend Eastern Washington and Washington State universities while others will travel across the country to chase their degrees.

Some will attend a trade school, join the military or enter the workforce. There’s no real wrong post-high school path and each road has its high moments and obstacles.

During your journey, you’ll be put into different scenarios, some minor and others life-changing. You will also encounter a plethora of different people along the way.

Over the years, I’ve met some pretty interesting folks working at the Arches — also known as McDonald’s — attending college and working here at the Free Press. This job in particular has allowed me to meet some pretty unique high school students and chronicle their accomplishments.

If there’s one piece of advice I want to leave for the graduating class of 2017 is no matter where you end up in your life, you should make an effort to develop relationships with people. Don’t be an island to yourself.

Some benefits that come from establishing relationships with others include networking — which could lead to numerous business opportunities — as well as having a support system for when times are tough. Having a connection with others also gives you a better understanding of life.

Even with the people you meet, but don’t become friends with, you should at least be kind to them. It’s a small world and you never know when or where you’ll run into someone more than once.

Especially in college, you’re going to meet people with different opinions than yours. Some of those are minor — like someone who badmouths your favorite sports teams, TV shows or movies. Others will have different religious or political beliefs than you and you could find yourself in a heated debate with someone about a specific issue.

Or maybe you meet these people and while you haven’t gotten into any arguments, you still don’t quite understand or agree with their beliefs. Whatever the situation, don’t let someone else’s differences stop you from building a relationship with them. You might find out that you two have a lot in common.

During my two-year stint at The Easterner, Eastern Washington University’s college newspaper, I worked with a plethora of people with different ideologies. One guy — who I’ll refer to as Xopher — was into comic books, video games, all of the same nerdy stuff that I enjoy, and had his favorite sports teams on top of that.

Later I learned he was an atheist. You’d probably think that since I was a Christian, he and I wouldn’t get along and our belief systems would set us apart, making our working relationship difficult, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We spent several hours together, talking about all of the things we enjoyed to great detail, while enjoying some friendly adult beverages at the local pub.

We didn’t let our beliefs get in the way of our friendship or working relationship. And when we discussed our beliefs, I learned we agreed on some things — mainly how religion is a necessity for some people, as well as how both Christianity and atheism have folks who are on the extreme side of the fence and do not represent the whole faith. He’s in Louisville, Ky., getting his doctorate, but we still talk every now and then.

Where do you start to find these people? If you’re going to college, find a campus club or organization that ties into your interests — or go outside of your comfort zone and join a group that you normally wouldn’t. If you don’t attend college, join a local charity or organization. You can also meet people through volunteering.

I’m not saying that you need to be nice to everyone you come in contact with — there are people you’ll meet in life that will screw you over. But you shouldn’t let a few bad relationships prevent you from building relationships with new people.

Al Stover can be reached at


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