I Graduated!

I have told you in previous blogs about a class I have been taking called Leadership Pittsburgh. In brief, its a year-long exploration of the issues facing western Pennsylvania through field trips, guest speakers and classroom interaction. The 57 people in my class were chosen because of where they are in their lives and careers. Many are already leaders and executives in their fields of endeavor. It was an honor just being included in this talented ensemble.

Last night was graduation night .. and I could not have been more pleased. Last night’s final session completed a year-long discovery process for myself. I thought I knew the region that I covered, but I was wrong. There are so many issues, so many challenges and so many people that need help I don’t know where to begin. I went through this experience with my 56 classmates, people from all walks of life and of all ages. When you go through such a power year, you cannot help but bond with these people.

Last night, on the 31st floor of the former Alcoa building, we completed our year-long commitment. For me, it truly was a commitment and one I did not think I would complete. Our class met only once a month, but we would spend the entire day together on one issue … at a predetermined site. For me, that meant I would meet my classmates after waking up and working my morning shift.

Each Thursday during the month, I would get up at 2:15am, do the morning news and get to class by 8am. Class would last until 5pm and then I would come back to work and shoot my weekly “Check It Out” entertainment segment until 8:30 or 9pm. Then, once I got home I would sleep a few hours get back to work in the morning. It’s probably no wonder that I got sick and finally missed a few days this week. However, after a year of sacrifice, long hours, lack of sleep and hard work I finally got my diploma.

I have to tell you that I feel a real sense of personal pride and accomplishment, the kind I have not felt possibly since I graduated from college. It proved to me that I can do anything if I really want it .. and that was the message that Leadership Pittsburgh left me after a year of education. I have learned that I can make a difference in my community and in my region if I really want to and I really believe.

I do not know what I will do with this new-found knowledge and this desire to create change, but I do know this: I have a stake in this region. I always believed Pittsburgh was my home but only through this experience did I understand that it’s not about just living here and paying taxes, it’s making sure Pittsburgh and the region is the kind of place I want to live in … and doing what I can to make my community better.

There are many issues we face as a region and I can’t solve them all, but I can just do more of what I have always tried to do. Make one little corner of the region a little bit better than when I found it. If you have ideas, I’m more than interested in hearing about them.

I’ll be off next week, taking some time rest and relax, so I won’t be blogging but I will be back. I’ll miss all your comments and kind wishes. See you soon. 

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