During my summers of college I held a position in Milwaukee’s Journey House. Journey house empowers families in Milwaukee’s near Southside to move out of poverty by offering adult education, youth development, workforce readiness and family engagement. Throughout these last 3 summers I have worked with the youth program, helping students with courses they may need to work on (elementary and middle school). I have also become a mentor to many middle and high school students, to prepare for high school and college.
One of the biggest accomplishments that I have succeeded has been helping these first generation students, become familiar with the value of education. Many of them have questioned me, Ms. Melissa why would I want to go to college, I don’t have the money? My answer is, I know you may not have the money but there are scholarships if you work hard, there are loans and grants. Some of these students don’t understand the value and the importance of education because in their homes they were taught such, in their homes education was more of an obligation rather than a gift.
I have helped various students, look away fro the negatives that they believe there are in a college education and daily I remind them, there is more than just books. There is a sense of commitment, liberty, growth, friendship and success that comes with it.
Sometimes, I think to myself did I chose the wrong career path as a Journalist? Because I honestly don’t want to be on TV, I don’t want to report on deaths and violence, I want to be the voice to students, to underprivileged citizens and to the many people who don’t have the voice to make a change.
I remind my students, I am not a teacher, I am a communicator who is hear to talk to you, to listen to you and to help you. I am the communication that they need, I am the morals that they want and I am the person that they will seek out for help in times of need, and that is all I ever wanted to be. With my journalist background, I can help these students; I can guide and give them better opportunities and changes that perhaps they never expected.
I have managed to become their voice in times of need, personally, economically and even socially. I have become the person they text at 1am asking for help, I am the person they say, Ms. Melissa I haven’t ate and I am their to give them something to eat because maybe their family cant afford more than one meal a day. These student’s are our future, and thanks to people kinder than me many kids throughout the country have fought their ways out of their neighborhood to become someone better, to bring food onto the table or to simply say “I made it”.
All I ever want to be for these kids is an inspiration, all I ever want to hear them say is “Thank you Ms. Melissa”, because nothing brings me more joy than seeing one of my kids grow to their full potential.