Education is Opportunity

Education Is Opportunity

I was the first in my family to attend university. My father was a migrant worker who joined the military to get out of poverty, and my mom was a teen mom who loved my dad for the almost fifty years they were together.

My father was a strong advocate for education as he saw it for what it was, a way to move up in the world. In elementary school, Satan was my first-grade teacher. She told my parents that I was “omitted” (a term we no longer use because it is offensive) because I struggled with reading. Unbeknownst to her, largely because she did not care, I had not attended kindergarten, so the skills my peers had, I had not been exposed to yet.

My father did not take kindly to what Satan had to say. From that day on, I had homework every day regardless of whether work had been assigned. In second grade, I had an angel for a teacher, Mrs. Pringle. My parents still have her picture in one of our many photo books. Through her, I learned to love to read. By the end of second grade, I had passed my peers in reading ability and was reading at the sixth-grade level.

This focus on studying and learning continued throughout high school. When I was told in high school that because I was Hispanic and female in a military town I would not graduate, I was astounded. Regardless of this counselor’s opinion, I still managed to graduate in the top 10% of my class. Largely because my parents expected my siblings and me to do well.

When I was accepted to The University of Texas at Austin and then, subsequently, realized that my family and I could not afford to attend. I resigned myself to following my father’s footsteps in joining the military. Until my mom received a call from a private, Christian university.

This call changed my entire family’s future.

As the first in my family to attend university, I did stumble in my undergraduate coursework. I changed majors and it took me five years to graduate. But I graduated. What my struggle did for my family is immeasurable. My parents learned the process of what was needed for my siblings to attend university.

To date, my three siblings and I have all earned advanced degrees. When I stopped my PhD coursework at the dissertation stage, my parents were appalled, but I no longer wanted to be a school administrator. They did not agree with my decision, but they recognized that education does not disappear because a degree was not completed.

Education for my family is about opportunity. My three siblings and I, the children of a migrant worker turned career military and a teen mom turned store manager, all have our master’s degrees. Statistically, at least one of us shouldn’t have earned a degree, but we learned early that education is what you make of it. What will you choose to do with your education? Opportunity is knocking.

Rebecca Orona

College Coach and Educational Opportunist

Mauler Pattern Thin
Mauler Pattern Thin