Friday I spent the morning meeting with several hundred children at the Fort Worth elementary school that I adopted many years ago.
Most unfortunately come from families with incomes that are below the federal poverty line. The idea of going to college might seem impossible. So rather than just talk about what an attorney does, for 13 years I have spent most of each class period on basics.
The most important idea I want them to remember is that they have to graduate from high school. I stress that if they don’t have a high school degree, they will probably only be able to work at low paying jobs, not pursue valuable careers. I get everybody to promise that they will graduate from high school. While they are standing up, I ask them to continue standing if they also want to go to college and no one ever sits down.
To help them understand that they can go attend a university, I bring my college diploma. I tell them that it is one of the most important things any one can own and that they can earn one too. I ask their teacher if he or she has one, ask which college they attended, and get them to talk about how hard it was to achieve. I remind the kids that they will have to study hard and make good grades so that they can attend the best college and receive financial aid.
I have them fill out a short checklist that asks them to pick their dream career. I ask them if they would like to work in the medical, legal, business, computer, arts, and other areas. I briefly describe what these people do and ask them if they think they would like to have a career like that. I tell them that most require a college education.
I ask if any one would want to be the president of the United States and of course a lot of hands shoot up. I remind them that we recently had the first African American president and almost had the first woman elected. It is just a matter of time, I tell them, that we will have our first Mexican American president and that maybe it would be someone in the room, who knows? That always gets many children excited.
I also check in the boxes of all of the subjects they study as being important for any career. I ask if any one want to design a new computer game and tell them that they will have to know how to write computer code. I point out they will always need to be good at reading, typing, and doing math. I throw out some trivia questions and see if any one knows the answers.
I urge the children to dream big and make their dreams come true. I also suggest that they talk about this with their parents and families and ask them to take their checklists home.
I want our Fort Worth children to succeed. To try to make this happen, I have contributed over $10,000.00 to the Mexican American College Endowment for fifth graders to receive college scholarships and which will also make them eligible to receive more money when they graduate from high school.
In addition, I just endowed a $125,000.00 scholarship just for Fort Worth students at my law school, Southern Methodist University.
Hopefully I my efforts will get at least one child to get a college and maybe even a law degree at SMU and all to find the path to more successful lives.
Career Day is always an enjoyable break from the office and I always leave feeling hopeful for our future.
Posted in: Community Service