A very dear friend of mine, whose natural curiosity and intellect is matched only by her compassion for others and desire to do good in the world, recently graduated from West Virginia University.
As with many, she is finding it difficult to pair her practical skill set and fine tuned moral compass with an actual job in West Virginia.
In essence, she desires meaningful work that gives back to a state and people that she desperately loves.
It is the defining problem of our generation that young, ambitious and inspired people have difficulty accessing personally rewarding jobs. The stark realities of adulthood dampen even the most ambitious of graduates and when push comes to shove, many young people leave West Virginia, never to return.
Quite tragically, this story occurs all too often.
“West Virginia’s greatest resource is its people.” This pithy refrain, heard throughout the Mountain State, speaks to the self-image of many West Virginians. We are a resourceful, resilient and reliant people motivated by the challenges that stare us in the face.
It is no secret that impending financial, economic and environmental shortcomings will continue to plague our state in the coming decade. If West Virginia is to save itself, we must properly invest in our young people.
Investment takes many shapes and forms, from proper funding for elementary education, to affordable higher education, to providing sustainable employment for recent graduates.
Only internal leadership can save West Virginia. Outside business investment will not save our state. Unfulfilled campaign promises will not save our state. Political bickering will not save our state. Young people, with active and responsible leadership, may.
Concerning my friend, I hope the state that has given her so much – a childhood, an education, and a life – may provide a job as well.
If we, as a state, cannot retain our best, brightest and boldest, we have failed ourselves, our state and our future.
I pray this is not the case.