Author: Elizabeth Figueroa
When College Day started six years ago, the question was posed: Kindergarten is too young of an age to begin talking about college, isn’t it?
For this year’s College Day, City of San José Councilmember Peralez kicked off College Week at San José High School, Home of the Bulldogs. He started with the story of his family’s humble beginnings and challenges that were very similar to what some students in the audience may be experiencing in real time. Peralez shared his experiences in being part of a biracial family that had different social views, but were on the same economic plane: low income.
The Councilmember’s parents knew they wanted something different for their children. They didn’t know what the path to or beyond college looked like, but they provided support and opportunities that would ultimately produce a San José State University Graduate with a degree in mathematics fully paid for in scholarships. Later, an Emergency Medical Technician at the Shark Tank, an eight year veteran of the San José Police Department, and the youngest sitting councilmember who helps make laws for the 10th largest city in the United States of America.
After propping himself up as a success story where overcoming obstacles is more than possible, he bluntly made an important point: there are groups who would like to keep some populations uneducated. There are groups who wish to keep low income and underprivileged populations from understanding that they can aspire to have more than a basic education regardless of the life they were born into. But why?
Because continued and higher education is the key to a happy and successful life where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive and help others leave the cycle of poverty. A more educated population makes for a more balanced distribution of power.
Because of his speech, 200 San José High School students have gone through College Week with a slightly different perspective and better understanding of why their counselors are putting on great events. These College Day related events expose them to opportunities that have the potential to catapult them to whatever greatness their talents will take them.
On College Day, Friday, October 21, 2016, approximately 150 Community Volunteers (Classroom Speakers) across 20 schools and various grade levels in Santa Clara County also had the opportunity to trigger a key thought in the minds of students who heard something they may want to explore further. They shared their successes, their mistakes, their wisdom, and their motivations for wanting their audiences to also pursue a continued or higher education. This group of speakers includes current university students, business owners, industry professionals, government employees, librarians, and deans of colleges. They are the best of us.
And so, for various reasons, no. Kindergarten is not too young of an age to begin talking about college. Waiting too long to speak to youth about college is procrastination at its worst. Every year, College Day seeks to celebrate, promote, and inspire a college going culture among those who most need to understand that there is purpose to their attendance at an academic institution, even if it is a kindergarten classroom. Those who know the value of an education must pass it on to everyone they come across. This is what College Day aims to do.
Will you join the best of society in the future? Will you encourage our youth to pursue an education beyond high school?