Monday, April 28, 2014

Education is My Super Power

This morning I attended a press conference to kick off College Week in San Antonio.  About 25 adorably proud students from Briscoe Academy stood up straight and tall, all dressed in their college t-shirts behind the Mayor while he read aloud a proclamation for the week ahead.  The Superintendent of San Antonio Independent School District was also there and he talked about how every kid can go to college, but they have to be told that the opportunity awaits them.  They need to hear it from the supportive adults in their lives. 
Unfortunately, though, so many youth today are growing up without positive one-to-one support and guidance from adults.  We all know that this is exactly what they need in order to reach adulthood successfully, but it's by no means a given.  Every successful adult can identify the role models and mentors who helped him or her navigate the challenges of childhood, but every prisoner can describe the lack of positive role models or worse, a surfeit of bad role models in their lives.  Without this critical adult support, youth fall prey to destructive cycles of poverty, failure, abuse, neglect, teen pregnancy, gang violence, substance abuse, truancy and  juvenile delinquency. As I have written about in the past, I'm lucky to work for an organization that helps fill the gap; having a Big Brother or Big Sister has been proven in volumes of research to stop these cycles. 
A report released in January 2014 by MENTOR, an organization dedicated to closing the mentoring  gap for our nation's youth, revealed that there are an estimated 9 million at-risk youth who will reach the age of 19 without ever having had a mentor (formal or informal).  The report also reveals that these youth are far less likely than their mentored counterparts to get the support they need to succeed in school and aspire to higher education.  In contrast, surveys of youth mentored in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas program in 2003 show that: 
·         93% of students expect to graduate from high school, and
·         85% of students plan to attend college
These results are what spur our organizational leadership to grow the BBBS mentoring program to the point that every student who needs or wants a Big Brother or Big Sister is able to get one, immediately.

When I graduated high school I knew I wanted to go to college but I had no idea how to make it all happen.  I ended up taking it, literally, one class at a time (often 1 class a semester or less) and I managed to graduate, albeit on the 10 year plan.  This week I am really looking forward to the 4th annual College Week during which hundreds if not thousands of elementary, middle and high school students in my community will learn more about college and how to get there than I ever did in school!  You can show your support by joining in each day's activities and events found on the Destination College website.  And don't forget the following:    

  • Monday - Wear your Sunglasses, cause your future's so bright
  • Tuesday - Silly sock day
  • Wednesday - Hat's off to Education
  • Thursday - Dress for Success in a Tie
  • Friday - College T-shirt Day

On my way out of the press conference this morning I saw this bulletin board and I had to snap a quick picture because isn't it the truth!? 

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