I’ve been sick for the past week. I woke up this morning coughing and fighting to catch my breath. I put my hand on my chest gasping for air; when I finally caught my breath I smiled and cried a little because in that moment I knew I meant everything I said in my presentation yesterday: “I’m going to tell you right now, I want it so bad I’m going to die trying,” when speaking about my education. I also thought about what my father told me one day while we were having breakfast: “I always dreamed about being a speaker, but I don’t have that gift. I’m not educated, but sometimes when I sleep I have this dream that I’m in front of people speaking and they are listening to what I have to say.” My father was never given the opportunity to live out his dream, but what kind of son would I be if I didn’t live it out for him.
Yesterday I had the honor of being a keynote speaker at Career Link High School at South Seattle College. I was asked to speak about the resources that have helped me become a successful student. As I sat down and wrote about resources such as the writing center, math lab, tutors, and scholarships, I remembered that I sat in those same chairs where the Career Link students would be sitting. And when I was a student at Career Link, there were times where I needed to hear more from my speaker then the usual “go here,” “go there,” “call here,” “email there.” I crumpled the paper and began from scratch. I instead gave the advice that helped me become a successful student beyond what it needs on paper. I spoke on my own life experiences, hoping I could identify with some of these individuals, and I gave them some of the tools that kept me going when I wanted to quit. This opportunity I was given was a true blessing; never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be speaking in the place where I only saw others making presentations. To look back on my journey and see how far I have come was an extremely proud moment for me. Who knows what the future holds for me, but trust me when I say, “No one in my family was given the opportunity I have now; I want my education so bad I would die trying to get it.”