Education comes from many sources. Some learn the ways of the world from experience, while others learn it in a classroom.
Often, many college-educated folks cannot successfully navigate life because they do not possess the requisite street knowledge and/or common sense to make it in the real world.
Furthermore, people attend college to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Some like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Sean “Diddy” Combs take the world by storm prior to their day of pomp and circumstance and never go back to finish their degree.
Because Combs dropped out of Howard University after two years to work for Uptown Records, which at the time consisted of artists like Heavy D, Mary J. Blige and Jodeci, many Howard alums are up in arms that a non-graduate could give advice to young college graduates.
According to TheGrio.com, student D. Gregory Carter tweeted his displeasure by stating, “Can someone explain why Diddy, a person who never graduated from Howard, is speaking at graduation?”
Nevertheless, others like Jerrell Leeper thought it was an important achievement for the hip-hop generation. He tweeted, “Diddy is doing Howard Commencement. That’s a big look for hip-hop and to his story.”
While I can understand the need for someone with a college degree to address certain young students, college graduates especially need to know that their education does not guarantee success, their hustle and perseverance will.
During the Civil Rights Movement, leaders like Malcolm X and many others taught African Americans that education was their passport to the future.
However, 50 years later we still struggle financially and have less wealth than any other ethnic group.
Our unemployment rate is still higher than all other ethnicities despite the large number of African Americans earning college degrees. According to BET.com, Black unemployment was 12.1 percent in January compared to the national average of 6.6 perent.
The true answer to our dilemma is not just education, but wealth accumulation.
A college education is only good for you if you can translate that knowledge into a better life for yourself and those that come after you. The only way to ensure that the next generation will have a brighter future is not necessarily the amount of degrees one attains but the amount of jobs and opportunities they can bless others with.
While Combs did not finish his degree at Howard, the knowledge he gained in those two years, combined with his work ethic, has made him one of the biggest music moguls since Berry Gordy’s tenure with Motown Records.
Like Gordy, who also did not graduate from college, Combs has been able to give people of color from impoverished backgrounds the opportunity to achieve fame and fortune through his imprints Bad Boy Entertainment and Revolt TV.
For too long, colleges and high schools have taught African Americans what it takes to land a good job. The problem with that philosophy is that you will probably only go as far as your superiors want you to go and you might not be able to make the type of impact on the Black community that could change people’s fortune and fate for ages.
Combs is the perfect person to speak at Howard University’s commencement because everything that is needed to succeed in life is not found in a college textbook.
Furthermore, didn’t Gates speak at Harvard University’s commencement despite dropping out of the college?
There are many people with advanced degrees who cannot provide a stable life for themselves and their families.
Furthermore, there are countless people in jail that are some of the most well-read and knowledgeable people on the planet. However, for the most part they are in no position to use that knowledge to positively affect people who are struggling to make ends meet.
Now that Howard University’s class of 2014 finishes their formal schooling, the real schooling will begin. Many would say that school is never over because if you’re not constantly learning, you’ll stop growing as a person.
Sure, Combs did not finish his formal education, but he has learned enough from the real world to make him the perfect person to help inspire the next generation of potential business moguls and world-changers that are finishing their college matriculation at one of America’s most prestigious universities.