Tuesday, December 3, 2013

This is America - be what you want to be.

Every time I speak to children, such as when the D.A.R.E. program was in our public schools, I always speak of the pursuit of a dream and how in America you can be almost anything you want to be. We live in the greatest country in the world. I’m proud to live in the United States and would not have it any other way. It is truly the land of opportunity.

I’m a perfect example of this. Until the last months of my senior year of high school, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go on to college. As with so many other high school kids, I had uncertainty (to say the least) about what I wanted to do when, and if, I grew up. I was at least certain that I could succeed if I worked hard. Not everyone saw it that way. I’ll never forget what my high school counselor told me. He said I’d never get into college if I applied and if I did get in, I’d never finish.

That reminds me of a “retired” doctor whom I’m proud to call my friend. He told me he worked in a laboratory in his first year of medical school and thus was told he was not required, as his fellow students were, to take his chemistry labs. I guess they never told his professor that. To his dismay, he received a failing grade in chemistry and was informed by his professor that he would have to study chemistry all summer and then pass a very difficult exam to make up for his absences. All he had to do to get a passing grade was to do the “make up work.”
His family had received his grade report for the semester and their reaction to the failing grade in chemistry ranged from utter shock to deep disappointment. You see, Doc, in my opinion, is a genius and he should certainly never fail any grade, and his family knew this. Well, the summer was a blur for my friend. He studied for long hours – everyday. Doc did eventually pass that nearly impossible chemistry exam. His medical studies continued and after a long successful career as a treating physician he is spending his “retirement” in his laboratory researching for medical advances in areas of critical illness including diabetes. He admits he was forced that summer to suffer his way into the ultimate position of a top medical chemist, for which he is renowned today throughout the world. That summer of hell earned him the advanced knowledge of chemistry, the most essential of sciences which has greatly benefited him to this day.

Perhaps that’s what my counselor had in mind; perhaps he didn’t. I’ll never know because that was 45 years ago.
The point of this story is you can and should be what you want to be. You can do it. You only need the passion, the drive, the commitment. Everyone should follow their dream. It’s an exciting, unpredictable journey, sometimes with unanticipated wondrous results. Ah, the doors that open and the people you meet.
Who knows even in high school what they are going to be. Even in college, changes in direction are usually made an average of three times before graduation. I personally am an example of this as is my genius friend. He completed seminary and was expected to be a priest. He also had enrolled in the military and was a sniper in the marine corp. His medical career was Doc’s final change. Me – well, I match that in the number of times I changed my major in college: Phys. Ed. (Coaching), the ministry and you know the rest of my story. 
Wherever you live, whatever the challenges you face now or as you travel on your life’s journey, FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS. It was my dream in the study of law; it was Doc’s dream to be a doctor.
People came to the USA from all over the world to obtain a better job and/or the education that is not available back home and the life that they dream of having for themselves and their families.
Dare to dream.