Who will be wearing one of those spiffy new “True Blue” robes on Sunday? Maybe it will be a future Nobel laureate, an innovative business leader who comes up with the next big thing, or that dedicated classroom teacher who reaches students in such a way that they excel in life and maybe become teachers themselves. Perchance sitting out there will be future pro-sport super stars, dynamic military leaders, lawyers, medical professional, and practitioners of the arts who will bring us joy and delight.

Likely sitting out there in Kenan Stadium are future professors, research scientists, religious leaders, and graduates who will raise families and another generation of Tar Heels. Yes, Sunday is such a special day because not only is it Mother’s Day, it is also graduation day for the Class of 2011.

Each year we have the opportunity to congratulate the graduating class for their academic accomplishments, and I think it is just as important to thank them for how they rounded out their classroom education by making so many contributions to our community. Many of the students graduating made some amazing contributions while they were with us, and most of their contributions are unknown to most of us. We should know more about their amazing record of service!

That’s why I was delighted to see Chancellor Holden Thorp’s April 25th Blog. He wrote specifically about the different ways the class has left its mark on our community. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. For another great description and tribute to their spirit of service and sharing their time and talents, read the 2011 Public Service Awards Celebration and Showcase. UNC also gives special recognition to those who qualify as “Public Service Scholars” at a ceremony on Friday May 6th.

When I think of some of the members of this class that I have known while there were here, I will always remember how willing they were to help make this a better place. Some that I knew worked on Habitat for Humanity houses, cooked at the IFC, raised money for a variety of local nonprofit organizations, tutored students, participated in highway cleanup efforts, and a host of other service projects. Each of these young men and women had “full plates,” but their plates were never so full that they couldn’t find time to serve others.

As bittersweet a time that graduation is, I am encouraged knowing that we have had so many great and selfless students to get to know. I’m even more encouraged knowing that they leave us having experienced the joy of knowing that their efforts made a difference. Best of all, I know that are going to make a real difference in our world in the years to come. Bittersweet it is, but I know the positive returns vastly outweigh the sadness we might feel. Hence, there’s only one thing left to do: bring on the next class! Now, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Comment below!