Living Mutual: Commencements small and large

By Allen Wastler
Allen Wastler is a former financial journalist with over 30-years of experience, including time at CNBC, CNN, and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
Posted on Aug 14, 2017

Know any one graduating college these days? Odds are you do.

Close to 2 million bachelor degrees are handed out each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.1 That number just about doubles when associate, master, and doctorate degrees are thrown in.

And high school? About 3.5 million students there are expected to graduate this year.

Those diplomas represent a lot of hard work and effort on the part of those kids. But they also represent commitment and support from the family and friends that stand with them.

That support comes in many ways. Some are pretty basic, like rides to school. Indeed, 44 percent of working parents spent five hours or more per week driving kids to and from school, according to

Others are more significant, like picking up the tab for tuition.  That added up on average to $16,188 at public universities and $41,970 at private colleges, said NCES. (Related: College Savings Calculator)

And there are exceptional instances. Like the mother who helped her quadriplegic son get through business school by helping him to class and taking notes for him.

“As a mom, you just want to help your kids get through things. I’ve always believed in him and I knew he could do it and I just wanted to have his back,” Judy O’Connor told a local news station.

As her son, Marty, received his degree this past month, Chapman University bestowed an honorary degree upon Ms. O’Connor as well. It was her son that nominated her.

That kind of interdependence builds the strength necessary not only for achievements, like graduation, but also challenges and tragedy.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, pointed this out to the Class of 2017 at Virginia Tech.

“We are not born with a certain amount of resilience,” she said. “It is a muscle, and that means we can build it. We build resilience into ourselves. We build resilience into the people we love. And we build it together, as a community.”

MassMutual would like to say congratulations graduates and thank you to the folks who helped them make the achievement.

MassMutual and Living Mutual

1 National Center for Education Statistics, “Fast Facts,” August 2016.