Tips from the Top


This month, thousands of high school seniors across Brevard County will don caps and gowns and proudly walk across a stage to receive their high school diplomas.

If your son or daughter is graduating from high school this year, you’ll know how bittersweet this milestone is. All the sacrifices you made through the years — driving your kids back and forth to school, athletic practices and games, clubs, band, theater. You name it. You did it all.

But what about advice for your children going to college? How about the military? What if he or she decides to join the workforce? What words of wisdom do our graduates need to hear that will influence and encourage them to make the most of and get the most out of the next phase of their lives?

There are many words of wisdom that are available for parents to give to their children. To help out, the Viera Voice asked some of Brevard’s top professionals, business and community leaders for some words of wisdom they would pass along to this year’s graduating seniors. VV


Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director

“My advice to the seniors graduating this year is to work hard and do your best at whatever is asked of you and never turn down an opportunity to do something new and expand your horizons. It’s important to have a goal for yourself. For most of you, that’s getting into college and graduating. I would encourage all of you to find out what motivates you, where your passion lies and pursue your dreams; not giving up if you don’t achieve them on the first try. Most things worth doing in this life are challenging and require perseverance and hard work to achieve them. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not successful right away, keep trying. I would encourage all of you to act with integrity. It’s something that seems to be on the decline today. Folks can pretty much say whatever they want without being held accountable.  How much brighter you will shine above the rest if you hold tight to your integrity. I’ve been blessed to have an amazing career and have been privileged to see our beautiful, blue, jewel of a planet from the vantage of space, but it required hard work and persistence. I didn’t get into flight training, test pilot school or the astronaut program on the first try. But, I tried again and was fortunate enough to be selected.”


Todd J. Pokrywa, president of The Viera Company

“Congratulations graduating seniors on reaching this significant milestone. You are about to embark upon significant change and your circle of friends will change, but embrace it and all of the new experiences that become available to you. There is an entire world of possibilities out there and, in pursuing them, forging new relationships will be vital to your success. Be committed to meeting as many people as possible and fostering relationships in every experience as you never know where it will lead. As National Hockey League Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky once said, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’ ’’


Rev. John Britto Antony, pastor at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Viera ‚Äč

“One of the fundamental characteristics of realizing one’s self is to know that our life is not about us. It is about God and about serving his purposes and others. To do that, we need to believe that God loves us and that he has a purpose for our life, and that purpose is to be the better version of ourselves. As you launch out into the wide world, you have immense potential either to tarnish your image or to shine light on your best self. Every decision, small and big, you make every day of your life will have consequences and the undeniable power in shaping who you are meant to be or take you away from becoming one. Our world is in the brinks of becoming self-absorbed, selfish, destructive and insensitive to the common good without the moorings of morals in life. You can salvage the situation if you know you have a unique part to play in making the world a better place to be. St. Catherine of Siena said it well: ‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’ “


Dr. Mark Mullins, Brevard County schools superintendent

“Each of us have at least three assets or what I call treasures — time, talent and treatment of others. I challenge you to live your life with the following in mind — be wise, be generous and be a blessing with the treasures that only you control. If you use your treasures within the guidelines of being wise, being generous and being a blessing — you won’t go wrong! Two final things, as you enter this next chapter in life, establish the life practice of always having a mentor. Find someone who will challenge you and hold you accountable to the virtues mentioned previously. Second, be a mentor to someone else to help him/her be their best selves. I believe by committing to these few things, we make the world a bit better for everyone.”


Carol Craig, founder and CEO of Craig Technologies

“My number one advice to young ladies graduating from high school would be to embrace the uncertainties of life and be confident that you will figure things out as you go along. Recognize that those alongside of you are experiencing the same feelings and although they may appear on the outside to have a solid handle on their future, they likely do not. Be unafraid to accept the fact that you may not have any idea what you are doing but recognize that sometimes the beauty of life is figuring out your way forward organically. Sometimes you will just have to make the stuff up as you go. Take new opportunities as they present themselves — be flexible and adaptable because you never know what may come along and change the trajectory of your life. Take all kinds of classes and not just what is required for your major — you will eventually realize where your true passion lies. Do not allow others to tell you what you can and cannot do — especially based on gender. Take advantage of all the great qualities that women possess to succeed, excel and be great no matter where life takes you and who it puts you up against. Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss because you didn’t even try. Challenge yourself to try something new — something you couldn’t have done in high school. If you are not terrified or at least slightly anxious about what you are doing, you might not have reached high enough. And as you navigate your way through all the unknowns and exciting opportunities, remember to show respect to everyone regardless of whether or not they deserve it — not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours. Lastly, in the words of Ray Bradbury: ‘Sometimes you just have to jump; and build your wings on the way down.’ 


Nina G. Salvaggio, Northrop Grumman, formerly the community communications specialist for The Viera Company

“Remember your community. A community can take many forms; it can be your graduating class, your dorm room, your family, the town you live in, but in every form, your community is your home. It’s important to nurture, care for and give back to your community and in doing so, it will in turn nurture you. It will care for you as you become the amazing young men and women in this world who will shape our future.”


Alex Edwards, a 2013 graduate of Viera High School, does digital marketing for the Amway Center and Camping World Stadium through Orlando Venues

“Happiness and success happen when you commit to a decision and move forward, not when you question the past and second-guess the future.”