142 reasons

Some times I realize just how lucky I really am. I recently had the humbling honor of reading 142 scholarship essays for the Spring Branch Education Foundation. And I cried.

My heart bled as I read 142 essays of students who had overcome challenges that would bring most adults to their knees. Yet day after day, they woke up and stood strong to achieve scholastic and extracurricular successes. These kids had climbed mountains to graduate and challenged themselves and those around them to be better because of their circumstances, not in spite of their situation.

These kids (sorry, at 17 and 18 they are still kids; tomorrow as college freshmen, they can be young adults) have so much incredible potential, and they have shared their hearts and pains for college admission and scholarships. All of them are incredible.

If you read their essays, you would also weep tears of pain, joy, and hope.

They are 142 reasons why edfurther will launch very soon. Then you, too, can read the essays of tomorrow’s leaders.

Don’t count on Facebook for updates about edfurther’s launch. If you want to be added to my update list, click here.

bold ego and balanced understanding of the world

Starting a new venture requires the same confidence college students need to push through obstacles and complete their degrees. In fact, I would suggest that success on both fronts requires a bold ego with a balanced understanding of the world…and a fierce willingness to fight when necessary.

Many first-generation students do not have the the support and wisdom of friends and family who have gone to college before. In my experience, although they have overcome tremendous challenge to get to college, at the first sign of trouble (financial, personal, or academic), they waiver, believing they don’t belong at college. Well-meaning friends and family tell them to take a semester off, come home, go to the local community college, and it will all be better. They acquiesce and return home. They get a job and work to pay for college, then work to pay for bills and college is second. Then they become a part-time student and their degrees become third and fourth on a list of responsibilities. Sometimes they eventually finish. Sometimes they continue to persist. And sometimes they eventually stop taking classes altogether.

The twisted irony of it all is that these very same kids were the toughest and strongest. When there was no power at home, they found a place to get homework done late at night. When they needed rides for school activities and the family car was broken, they jumped on the bus. They stayed up late at night to work on projects until everything was perfect. They wrote college essays that made us cry. They persisted.

The goal of edfurther is to remove one of those barriers–the financial weight.

And to do that edfurther will be bold and have balanced humility–learning from peers, partners, and competitors while believing in something new. edfurther believes in the power of a community to invest in the next generation of leaders.

was an MBA worth it?

Just yesterday someone asked me a question that I have heard a few times: “Was my MBA worth it?” We were on the campus of my alma mater, Rice University, and I had been reflecting on the experience and the debt quite a bit lately, so my response was more philosophical.

When I graduated, I don’t choose to work in finance. I didn’t get a job at a Fortune 500 company. I didn’t start my own “next gen best idea” business. I decided to go back to what I love–schools and educational opportunities.

The institution and experience were top notch. The skills were invaluable. The confidence and comfort to engage in any professional topic have opened many conversations and doors. My abilities to analyze and evaluate, debate and reflect, and balance research with quick decisions have prepared me for each endeavor. For my MBA and the skills I gained, I am thankful.

The debt though, the debt I am unsure of. I  still owe nearly 30k in college loans. I am 40.

My oldest, the first of four, will start college in nine years. I know we should be saving for her tuition but the current debt seems to take priority.

Here’s what I think about MBAs:

If you are going to spend the time, do it right. Engage in your studies. Select a university with professors and peers who make you learn and grow. Do everything you can to manage the debt, but as it is with most educations, there is a cost. And then study, learn, and grow, and take the time to build yourself up to build your better tomorrow.

Yes, my MBA was worth it, and Rice University was an incredible experience.

beaches & opportunities

If opportunity is a mindset, then white sand beaches are the postcard you send from the land of opportunity.

As I sit here looking out on the soft, white sand beaches of Orange Beach, Alabama, I am reminded that too few actually understand limitless opportunity. Often these limits are not placed on young people by their choices but by the circumstances and the world around them.

If America truly is the land of the free and the home of the brave, as I believe it to be, then everyone should sit on a white sand beach and dream, dream of a better tomorrow in which the fine print doesn’t limit opportunities.

So here’s my dream for the land of opportunity:

One day, the doors of education will be open for all who work hard and live compassionately; money and circumstance will not limit a child but make them stronger and a better student of life.

And here’s the fine print:

For many young Americans, true opportunity is not real today. Not because they aren’t working incredibly hard but because to seize opportunities requires the world (an adult) to believe in them and see them differently. Today, I urge you to invest in a young person differently. See them differently. They are today’s children and tomorrow’s leaders. They need our faith in them. They deserve our support.

 

 

 

a long line of strong women

I come from a long line of strong women.

My great grandma Christena (my namesake) was on her own and left school in the third grade. Her mom died and her dad took her siblings, leaving her to work for another family during the depression. All my life, she read books and watched PBS. She loved learning and hearing about other’s adventures.

My grandma Tipton got her GED in her late 60s. About the same time, the bakery where she had worked for almost all of her life began cutting her hours. That degree, the one she never thought she could get because of algebra, changed everything. She became a teaching assistant. When she retired, she taught “younger women”, women in their 70s, to read from her farm.

My mom got her bachelor’s degree in her 50s. She worked to pay the bills while my dad got his diploma (first in the family) on an ROTC scholarship from Texas Tech. She started back so many times, and every time we would move again. Growing up, we moved a lot for my dad’s job. But my mom, she never really stopped believing that her turn would come. And it did. She graduated from Tarleton State.

My sister and I are lucky. We come from a long line of strong women. Treysa is a professional engineer (that’s a big deal in the engineering world) for environmental engineering, and I’m an educator with an MBA.

My daughter will be even luckier. She comes from a long line of strong women.