I don’t know what it is to be a parent, but I know what it is to have one or two. I don’t know how it feels being illiterate (whether in English or Spanish) unless it is in Chinese or any other foreign language. But, I do know what it feels having a mother who does not know how to spell her own name or write my own name in the language we both used to speak. I am not ashamed of my mother, or her illiteracy for that matter, so do not get me wrong. All that I am and have – after God- I owe it to her; and the best thing she could have done for me and my siblings was to push us to go to school and get an education.
I remember her last dying days and her words and tears at the thought of what was going to happen to her children, four of us. We were already without a father and /or close relatives to watch over us. And, though sad as I may sound, what she said and did during her last days are the ones I remember the most. Some of those words were “I may not leave you any riches as an inheritance; but I will leave you the best of the inheritances, your education – and you can pass it on to your children and to your grandchildren”.
To have somebody who never went to school appreciate learning and education with the passion my mother had blows my mind. And so, to honor her memory, we went to school and got an education. The three older ones went ahead and went to college and got a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, Accounting, and Education respectively. The youngest sibling is now working on her bachelors – for it is never too late to go back to college or to start a college degree.
I decided after my bachelor’s degree, that I needed a higher education degree. So, a Master and Doctorate degrees came afterwards. Those degrees took me to where I am today. I have been working for the last 6 years with students whose parents never went to school, or whose parents are not literate in the language they now speak, English. These students are the first ones in those families to even dream of the possibility to attend college. These types of students are what this country’s Educational system categorizes as ‘First Generation’ students. And their parents are just like mine. They never went to college; but their dream is just like my mother’s.
But, then I also have met parents who are yet to learn or understand the educational system in this country. Many walls are to come down before even dreaming about sending their children to college. It is expensive, I know. But, the cost of it should not and will not stop anybody from going to college- and that includes Hispanic students.
Why get a College Degree? Because, those of us who are lucky enough to have one -a degree- can testify of the benefits of it.
Why a College Degree? Because, the impact (personally and financially) that a college degree will have in them and in your family and their future families, will be huge.
Why a College Degree? Because, in some of the best paying jobs, your children will need more than a high school diploma.
Why College? Because it will open a whole new world to them. It will take them to places that they have never dreamed of. It will lead them to reach far greater things in life.
Why College? Because that is the best inheritance you could leave to anybody- mainly if they are your own children. My mother did it so I can tell you, parent, you can too!
“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”
Gilbert K. Chesterton
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