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If you have not read the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis, do yourself a favor and take the time from your day to Google it – you may find it to be quite motivational. It is a quick read and the message is simple.

We are born and eventually we die. When we die, someone we love marks those dates on our gravestone and separates them with a dash. The dates themselves are significantly less important than the dash between them, as it is the dash that represents not when we lived, but rather, how we lived. The poem begs the question, “What will you do with your dash?”

You might be wondering what this has to do with your education, right? Your education is a gift you give to yourself and others, as it prepares you to use your dash to make a positive impact on the world. Among many other outcomes, your education may help you to move into a management position where you have a positive impact, increase your credibility and power to persuade, or serve as an inspiration to others who have not yet made the commitment to complete their degrees. Whatever the impact of your education, it is and always will be an important part of your dash.

Carthel Starks, director, Columbia College-NAS Jacksonville

Whether you are just starting your education, are somewhere in the middle or nearing the end of your degree, remember that with education comes opportunity. Stay focused, complete your degree, maximize the opportunities that come your way, and use your education to create opportunities that otherwise may not have been possible. Ensure that your dash makes a difference!