Impossible. That is not a fact, but rather an opinion. Anything is possible if a person believes enough and is willing to work hard enough to reach for it.
On Friday afternoon, May 21st, a young man received a bachelor's degree in English and Secondary Education, Phi Beta Kappa. His journey to that diploma was not easy. It was a ten-year odyssey with many peaks, valleys and detours. But he was determined. Impossible was not going to define his life.
CT was born into a strong middle class family. He is the oldest of ten children. Early on in school, his teachers indicated to his parents that he was brilliant. His brilliance led him to walk to the beat of a different drummer.
Unfortunately, that drummer led him down some treacherous roads. Ultimately, as he finished high school by the skin of his teeth, he felt compelled to leave his home. Many of his social choices caused him on-going conflict with his parents, who were very strict.
For a number of years CT's relationship with his parents was very tumultuous. For a brief period, his free spirit caused him to lead a very reckless and irresponsible life.
He tried Suffolk Community for a while. That was not challenging enough for him. He left Suffolk and wandered for a while doing odd jobs. He then weaseled his way into a strong local liberal arts college. He excelled in English and Philosophy. Unfortunately because of his lack of maturity and motivation, he did poorly in those courses he did not like. That poor attitude eventually forced him out of school again.
Over the next number of years CT began to repair his family ties. His love for music, literature and the theater became his passion. Although community theater pays next to nothing, that became his life. He was really good at it, but he still did not have a college education.
As CT was wandering the local landscape from one community theater to another, he ran into an old college professor who taught him writing. This professor challenged him to return to school and use his brains in a more comprehensive way, rather than just being a wanderer.
The professor told him about a program that would empower him to put his life together, go back to school and also help him with a part time job. A few months passed and finally CT was willing to move beyond his fears and say yes.
Needless to say, he was a nervous wreck. It had been almost a decade since CT had been accountable to anyone. Putting himself back in a structured, accountable environment was a tough decision.
However, once he made that decision, it was as if the shackles of the world were released. He revived his passion for learning and writing. He re-applied to school and was accepted. By his second semester, he won an academic scholarship. He was soaring like an eagle.
As his academic life was restored and moving forward, he became very interested in his part time job working with troubled young people. He seemed to really be able to relate to them. He readily connected with their lingo and their pain.
That positive work experience helped CT to finalize his career path and clarify what he wanted to be. He decided to major in English and Secondary Education. His renewed energy and enthusiasm became contagious. He was so on fire with his desire to truly make a difference. He expressed that his life was forever changed.
The change he spoke about was not short lived. It expressed itself in many arenas. He worked harder at mending fences with his parents. He became more of an active, positive big brother for his nine brothers and sisters. The narcissist was now becoming other centered. He genuinely became concerned about other people.
His academic life was mind-boggling. He got very involved with school, although he was working a lot of hours. As an aspiring teacher, he became consumed with writing creative lesson plans and creating learning strategies that excited junior and senior high students about literature and philosophy.
This past year, CT did his student teaching in a large, multi cultural high school. They loved him and he loved them. In the classroom, he was on fire. He could relate to his students because of where life had taken him. He got involved with the drama department and was asked to be the assistant director of the major drama production for the high school.
The show was a smashing success. So many faculty, staff and students indicated that much of their success was due to his involvement. CT was thrilled with all this affirmation.
As he goes out into the world to become a tenured teacher, he brings such a rich experience that will genuinely make him a gift to any school community who chooses to hire him.
What is refreshing about CT's story is not his academic success, or the fact that he is a creative genius in the theater arts, but rather that he has a passion for learning, for students and for making a difference. He knows he won't get rich being a teacher. He know that if he really wants to impact on his students' lives, it is not a 7-2 job, ten months a year, but rather a vocation to empower students to be all that they can be.
Impossible. Not a word in CT's vocabulary. Too many people hide behind this word and use it as an excuse for doing nothing. It is not fact, but really just a shallow opinion. CT's story is a wonderful reminder that anything is possible if we believe and work hard enough for it.
The human spirit is phenomenal. We finite adults are sometimes the biggest obstacles to our children soaring like the eagles. We need to work harder at believing in the untapped possibilities that live in every person. Everyone's time to freedom and wholeness is different. Let's support that difference with passion!