It was fun to again be the judge at “my school” on Monday. Eleven years ago, I adopted Rufino Mendoza, Jr. Elementary as a community service project. The experience has been a rewarding one.
I have taken a special interest in their after-school running club with my love of running. I also donate money for college scholarships and for other needs during the year.
The seven bright students made polished presentations about their leadership skills. I am always impressed with their poise and sincerity. The Power Point slide was this child’s talking point for How I Have Been A Leader. I’m pretty sure we never did anything like this when I was in the fifth grade in 1964.
The students had just been on a field trip to the University of Texas at Arlington and were excited about going to college. Several had decided they wanted to go there and become the first members of their families to pursue higher education.
The first child loved studying the earth and wants to be a geologist because “it sounds so fascinating.” I enjoyed it when he said that he sometimes fails because he is not perfect — but that “he always learns from the experience.”
The second applicant hoped to go to Texas Christian University and be a teacher “because she loves learning.” She also said that failing is not a problem for her and that “she always gets back up feeling stronger.”
Another student wanted to go into medicine — either as a doctor or veterinarian, she couldn’t decide which because she loves animals so much. She wants to go to Harvard because it’s an “amazing school” and knows that she will do well in life because she “expects a lot from herself.”
The next child planned to become an immigration lawyer to help other people. He loves helping his teachers and family out.
Another student, an athlete, wants to attend the University of Texas and play in the NFL.
The next student also wanted to “design buildings and things.” He loves his family and his dog.
The last child told me that she could be anything she wants to be but that “computer science fascinates me.” She plans to attend a university in California.
All of these fine young people will receive scholarships. Bravo children!
Another favorite day at Mendoza is when I talk to the kids every year about the importance of graduating from high school and college and even graduate school. I get them to promise that they will try.
As a prop, I bring my college diploma and let them pass it around. They get so excited. I tell them that they can get their own diploma but that they will need good grades and have to work hard.
I urge the students to start thinking about their perfect career now. I tell them to dream big and that nothing is impossible.
I believe that we must motivate our children so that they — and we — will have a better future.
I hope that I have made a difference in at least one child’s life over the years.
I will attend the school’s fifth graduation ceremony next week. It’s always an exciting morning.