Last week, I referred to the concept in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping
Point that influential people can make tremendous changes by the way that
they approach problems.
week, I refer to specific families that have not only made changes in their
children’s lives, but have done so against all odds.
continue to be impressed by the story of Cedric Jennings, as chronicled in the
book A Hope in the Unseen, by Ron Suskind. Cedric grew up in the
notoriously impoverished area of Southeast Washington, DC. Two things, though,
distinguished him from his high school peers: the drive that his mother
transmitted to him and the internalized desire that he wanted to succeed in
school and then in life beyond school.
story in the book takes us from Cedric’s junior year in high school through
his freshman year at Brown University. (Despite the difficulties he experienced
as being an outsider at Brown, he graduated with the Class of 2000.)
Another story was recently in the news: the Chavez family of Albuquerque, NM had
such a focused intent toward their children’s education that they were able to
send all five children not only to the best private high school in town, but
onward -- all five of them -- to Harvard University. In addition to that
education, three of the Chavez children have achieved graduate degrees at
stories are particularly inspiring to me because the families belong to minority
groups that have been tremendously disenfranchised in our society. They have
beaten the odds against them by setting goals, making sacrifices, and working
are lessons that all families can learn from these stories:
- Parents are responsible for taking a
leadership role and setting the tone for goals to be achieved by family
- The entire family must focus on each child’s
education by making it a priority in their lives.
- Sacrifices of short-term material possessions
will pay off in long-term success for the children.
- Your socioeconomic status and family heritage
are barriers to your success only if you permit them to be.