The Power of a Role Model

Austin - Raywick, Kentucky
Entered on April 23, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family
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A vague memory lingers within the back of my mind. Its existence seems as frail as a newborn child; it is perhaps my earliest memory. The image reveals my mother, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, and I within the doorway. I fail to recall our ages, yet I remember tip-toeing in order to reach the doorknob. It is possible that I could not yet speak a single word, but none need be spoken. She was preparing for another day at work as I watched intently. From this first memory to the moment I last saw her, she has been working. My father is not in the slightest bit different from my mother when it comes to work. Whether the work that they perform is for their occupation or for the keeping of the house, they are tireless in their efforts to provide for our family.

My parents both go into work early in the morning and seldom come home when finished with their respective eight-hour shifts. As soon as they do arrive at home, they begin preparing dinner for our immediate family: themselves, my sister, and me. After eating our meals, my mother and father continue carrying out various chores. Washing dishes, doing the laundry, mowing the yard, you name it they can be seen doing it on any given afternoon. I am aware that it may not be observed as an incredible achievement to undertake such tasks I have mentioned; however, they have attained great success in my eyes. As one ventures closer into their lives, the accomplishments hidden between the lines of the ordinary are more evident as extraordinary.

Both of my parents are employed in factories. How is this feat defined as an achievement hidden between the said lines? My mother began her life as a factory worker directly out of high school, and my father began after serving four years in the navy. For roughly 25 years now, my parents have formed and provided for a family with the low wages of factory life. Although most employees of low wage occupations are considered lethargic and apathetic, I have never met two individuals that contrast this particular description as much as my parents. My mother has recently become the first female team leader in the history of her company. Working countless days with lathes, coolant systems, and horizontal mills, she knows more about the machines than the engineers that designed them. To describe her knowledge, think of how an avid animal lover understands their pets. She knows which machines will perform the best under certain circumstances.

My father’s story is equally impressive. He is considered an engineer, yet has not enrolled in a single college course. He demonstrated a great knack for the design aspect of factory life as a young man. He learned how to use various computer programs and evolved into a valuable tool for his company. My father does not have a diploma from a University hanging on his wall, yet everyone he works with, that has obtained actual degrees as engineers, looks up to him as their mentor.

The unlikely success of two low wage factory workers did not arrive overnight. This type of success only derives from experience and incredible effort throughout long periods of time. The insurmountable dedication that my parents maintain is credited to their desire to facilitate the foundation of a strong family. With this being said, the amount of time spent working never impeded their attendance at events in which my sister or I participated in. I cannot recall a time in which our parents missed something that was important to us. Every sporting event, awards ceremony, school play, or any other performance, two seats were occupied by my parents. Due to the fact that we were the prominent aspect in their lives, the most effort they have ever put into a particular job, is the occupation of parenthood.

Through my parent’s portrayal of dedication, they have brought stability into the path of life for my sister and me. Neither of our parents wants us to undergo the same paths that they endured. It is slightly comical—the irony of this story. Despite their tireless efforts to prevent us from living the lives they were forced to live, we developed into almost their mirror images. My mother leads a team of machine operators; my sister will teach a room full of kids. My father is considered an engineer; I will be an accredited engineer. Although our future has more potential, it is scarily accurate to the lives of our mother and father.

Our parent’s desire that we inherited reveals to be the most prominent reason for the accuracy of our lives. My sister will be one of the first elements in children’s lives; spreading knowledge to many generations. I don’t know of any other occupation that requires as much effort as a teacher. I too will have an occupation that requires great effort. I will be designing machines that people will be using every day. If I don’t put much effort into my work, my laziness could cause injury or death to another human being.

If my parents had attended college, it is difficult to determine their exact position. They would be making much more money and the ride of life would be much smoother. However, would they display as much dedication and effort as currently do? Would I have harvested as much meaning from a hard day’s work? Would I possess as much determination to be a great person? Would I have as much passion to make my parents proud? It is impossible to tell because, had my parents been well off, their work ethic would not have shown so brightly.

This reveals the power of a role model. Everyone needs someone they can look up to and approach for an answer. A question may not always be asked, but an answer will always seep through the actions of a role model. This explains that one should always be aware of their behavior, regardless of who is around. Imagine if my parents did not care so much for me and my sister. If my first memory was of my mother storming out of the bathroom, essentially giving up…if my father didn’t take the time to share his interest in machines with me…if my parents were as lethargic and apathetic as the stereotypical factory worker, I guarantee that I would not be writing this paper today.

What defines a true role model? Work ethic. Dedication. Determination. My parents have never really spoken about any of these characteristics, yet they reflect in my sister and me almost every day. My mother never realized that someday I would reflect back on one of my earliest memories with her and interpret her simple actions as determination. My parents probably never figured that I would retain so much characteristically from their hard work when they were young. From this I have learned to be conscious of my actions at all times. My parents are my role models. They provide a solid foundation on which to base life. Without their guidance, my life would be on a completely different track. Under altered circumstances, I cannot see myself preserving my current family values. My children would not be able to witness the determination that I observed as a child. For this reason, I believe in the power of a role model.