This I Believe

Sandra - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on January 16, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I believe

Education, I believe, is one of the most important things a person can receive in life. Education opens so many doors exposing endless opportunities which, in turn, can make ones life much easier. My parents were very educated but had no specific degree or career except for my father having been in the military. When my mother chose to abandon my father, brother and me, we ended up living in the projects on welfare. My father was discharged from the military because he could no longer fulfill his duties with the government while being a single father. During these years, I watched and learned how people here raised their children, types of food they ate, television programs they watched and friends they had. I noticed that a lot of these people were no more educated than a fourth grader and found mothers of school aged children who could hardly read a written word. I found also how these people seemed desperate because of their lack of education and having no money for just the basic things. My father finally decided to go back to school to get his degree.

Sadly, I got lost in all that was around me and went to jail for shoplifting when I should have been in school. I dropped out of high school. While in jail, again I noticed how uneducated people were. Girls asked me to read their mail to them or help them write letters to their children back home. It was sad that, not only were these girls criminals but, they could not even read or write. I thought maybe if these young girls had an education maybe they would have made better choices that would have deterred them from breaking the law. When in jail they offered us free classes to obtain our GED or high school equivalency. I started the class with four other girls but by the end I was the only one left who took the test. By the time I had been released, my father bought a new home in a good part of town. I immediately noticed a difference. Almost everything was completely opposite of the way it was in the projects.

I began to work as a waitress and because I had no bills or expenses it worked until I became pregnant. My child’s father left me as soon as he found out about the pregnancy. I knew then I really had to make a change. I needed a formal education. I was afraid just to be pregnant let alone having thoughts of how I would support a child. I began college courses and worked full-time. When the baby came, I quit school once again and stayed home while my father supported us. I was working different jobs having to quit and find a new one every so often because of childcare or transportation issues.

One day, when my daughter was in third grade, she asked me for help with her math homework . I felt ashamed for at that very moment I realized how uneducated I truly was. I could not help her solve the problem. It was all I needed to know how important it was for me to go back to school. I could not let my own child see me as uneducated or lacking the knowledge to help her excel at her own education. It became very personal to me at that point. Education is a lot of things, I now realize that. It doesn’t just mean formal training in certain subject like Math or History. This whole experience I have written about has become an education all on its own. Experience can be an education. It’s not only in books but in people and places as well. Nevertheless, it is an education!