For The Children Weekly Column

Happy Graduation to Students and Lawmakers Alike!

May 22, 2023

“For the Children” Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, OICA CEO


Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


OKLAHOMA CITY – Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a high school graduation ceremony.

The graduate I was there for has always had a special place in my heart as her parents are very close to me. Additionally, one of the graduates was someone who I helped with a policy while I was in the Legislature. Another special graduate, the son of two of my high school classmates, ended his academic career by graduating from Oklahoma State University last week.

These are just a few of those thousands of Oklahomans receiving diplomas this month. I certainly want to wish all of them the best as they either move on in their academic careers or out into the world.

At the graduation, I reflected on my own held in the same spot 34 years ago. As the co-salutatorian of my class, I was nervous about my speech which reflected on 13 years in public school and with what the future might hold for me and my classmates.

The commencement address, delivered by a local pastor, encouraged us to not only seek worldly wealth, but also to find those inner riches important to personal growth. There was, of course, the hugging and crying as we knew that there were some there who we might never see again.

Years later, I was able to achieve one of my dreams by serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, another 12-year commitment. In that time, I had the pleasure of delivering several commencement speeches to classes entering the world wide-eyed. One line that I liked to use in each speech was “Let this not be your greatest accomplishment, but simply make it your latest.”

The aging process is all about growing as human beings, and school helps us achieve our potential. If we are not working toward bettering ourselves personally, professionally, and spiritually, then we have stopped that process of continuous development. Far too many adults lose sight of that, but hopefully not our state policymakers.

As this is now the final week of the regular legislative session for Oklahoma lawmakers, I also want to extend congratulations to those members who are advancing from their “freshman” year in the Legislature, along with those termed out members who will “graduate” next year when they reach their limit.

I am certain for many of the new lawmakers, this is not what they expected. For many, they enter that building wanting to change the world based upon their election promises. The rude awakening is that seniority truly does matter, just like high school, as the senior roles often determine which policies are considered in the limited time of four months for the annual session.

My message to those newer members at the Oklahoma State Capitol, along with those curricular graduates entering the world, is to keep your dreams alive as you continue your work. With the right amount of preparation, drive, and study, you each can achieve your highest potential, but you must plan your work, and then work your plan for success.

For those lawmakers entering their “senior year” at the Capitol, I want to thank those who have distinguished themselves with admirable service. This is the final class that would overlap my own service, completed nine years ago, and I consider many to be friends. To them, please finish strong and leave the state in good hands for those lawmakers coming up behind you.

May graduates and lawmakers alike enjoy their summer break, and congratulations to each of you for making it through the semester/session!