I am extremely proud of my working class family. My pursuit of higher education was not out of shame of continuing down that vocational path. My story is about the importance of letting our students choose their own path in life and not limiting their confidence or aspirations. We need to challenge our students in a constructive way. We also need to give them the support to either succeed or cope and make meaning of their “failure.” I was lucky to have that support from my family, friends, and teachers.
My story would not be complete without sharing my father's story. Without my father's hard work, dedication, and sacrifice I know I would not have been able to reach as high in my academic pursuits. It is because of him that I stand here today telling you my story of reaching my goal. He found success through trial and error and experiential wisdom. He is proud of me for my dedication to academia and my love for learning. In turn, I am proud of him for what he has accomplished without that college degree. Two entirely different paths with the same result: success, in however we choose to define that term in our own lives. I am forever thankful, dad, for your unconditional love and support.