This I Believe

Anna - Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Entered on June 6, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I believe.

I believe in the power of education.

My grandmother, Ana, was seven years old when her mother died, leaving her as the oldest of three children living on a family farm in Brazil in the late 1800s. Because of all of the farm work that needed to be done each day, she never had the chance to go to school. She never had the chance to learn to read or to even learn how to write her own name.

Because of her hard work and her belief in education, however, her daughter, Thereza, had the benefit of attending a boarding school in Brazil and later, college. Thereza went on to marry a gentleman named Edmund and in the 1960s the two of them came to the United States so that he could pursue his education in Mathematics. After he went to work as a math professor in Lancaster, she went back to school to earn her masters degree in education and became a high school Spanish teacher. I remember that they, my parents, owned a station wagon with a bumper sticker on it that read “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Ana would come and stay with them and help look after my two older brothers and me during the school year. I remember getting home from school everyday and her asking me about my day. She would forever be telling me, as my parents did, how important school is and that I should always work hard.

When I was five years old I showed my grandmother how I learned to write my name, Anna, and she told me how proud she was of me. She then showed me how she too, then in her 90s, was working on her name. Although she had to learn to sign her name when she began traveling to the United States, she did not really know what the letters were, but she did like to practice writing it as best as she could. Together, we started working on learning to write both of our names better—with me teaching her the alphabet and she teaching me how to write neatly.

My grandmother and my parents died before getting the chance to see my brothers and me graduate from medical school, graduate school and law school. They did not have the opportunity to watch us working in careers as educators ourselves, as a clinical doctor, a mathematics professor and a law professor. I think of my parents and my grandmother as true believers in the power of education. Together they taught me that a love for learning is lifelong and that education is something truly worth pursuing and worth taking the time to pass on to others. This I believe.