Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the root of opportunity

the slogan 'stay in school' is not just grossly overplayed, it really doesn't explain anything. it is more like a command, 'here is what you must do. why you ask? don't ask just stay'. this revelation hit me as i walked the halls of my mothers K-6 school in Haines City, Florida (probably because it was plastered on a few walls). I was there for a 'release party' my mother called it, not a record. butterflies. we gathered the children around, songs were sung, lessons were given, and i had the duty of releasing them into the 'wild'. These kids were asked to stay but i wondered if they truly had any idea why.

that night i spoke at the community college i attended. afterwards i was asked to give a brief interview for the schools newspaper and one of the questions was 'do you think your education has had an impact on your career'. that's when my thoughts started flowing and i realized that it had not only everything to do with my career but with life.

education is the root of opportunity. the more education we receive the more doors that will be opened. its not about 'stay in school' or 'be cool stay in school'; i honestly think were selling it to ourselves all wrong! if you really want to see eyes opened and imaginations soaring then try explaining the numerous benefits of what higher education can do! try asking them to imagine the limitless empowerment that the future could hold. try explaining that they do not have to live out their parents lives, if only they would absorb and continue. its a daunting task, but its reality.

its not just about opportunity either, it has other lifetime implications as well. its about the ultimate defeat of racism. we as humanity 'fear the unknown,' and if we do not know or understand other races, cultures, religions, ideas, etc. then by NATURE we fear it. if we fear it then we mentally make an enemy of it, we avoid it, we label it so we feel in control or superior to it. want to end racism in your community? fight for better education. i would love to see statistics of non-high school graduates and then master degree students in percentage of those with racist tendencies. i think we would be floored by the fact that opening your mind and gaining an understanding of the world around us allows us to accept and even embrace others.

its not just about racism either... just yesterday i read an article in 'the week' stating the fact that people with higher education are less likely to get a divorce. relationally effects us.

its not just about opportunity, divorce, racism, etc. its about the development of you. its about reaching your potential as a human being. its about not having the questions of who could have i become if only i...

and i know what some of you are thinking, i don't think i am smart enough!: you are reading an online journal from the patron saint of middle school dropouts. honestly my grade point average hovers on a good day right around the number two. i worked so hard to get so little it felt. i was so jealous of my two younger brothers who never had to study and still made A's, meanwhile my ADHD brain was to busy thinking about some random etching in my desk about who loves who to even attempt to concentrate on what PIE equaled. in high school the guidance counselor took me in her office and asked me what vocational school i would like to sign up for (side note: there is NOTHING wrong with trade school!) and i even questioned myself if i could do that!


so after high school i did what most people who don't believe in themselves do, i got a job at the bottom rung of the ladder picking weeds at an amusement park. and i did this for awhile! day after day i would wake up at 5AM and run lawn mowers, or plant bulbs, or blow off sidewalks. but after a few months i realized that this couldn't be it, i looked at the men who had been working at this job for years and years and i knew i didn't want to be like them. this couldn't be it. this is not what i was meant to be.

i didn't gamble on the lottery, i didn't hope for someone to see my raw leadership talent and move me up to corporate amusement park management, i didn't even put in my resume in the food service part of the park... i applied for community college.

so i have a new slogans i would like to pitch and implement in the global educational community.

EDUCATION.
it is the only thing that separates you from where you want to be in 10 years.

EDUCATION.
do you really want to end up exactly like them? i mean really? exactly?

EDUCATION.
because people on the other side of the world don't all hate you.

EDUCATION.
because picking weeds really sucks at 5AM.

-esteban

post script: my sister and i have always struggled with good grades, but she fought and fought. now she is enrolled in Florida State getting her Masters in Psychology, and i couldn't be more proud.