Mary Ann N. Brown, BA, Former Head Student Advisor, CIP Berkshire
I love this time of year. Not for the decorations or the music or the presents but because of a message which one senses in the air. “Something” which encourages us to look for the best in others, to see our common humanity and to be a little kinder to each other.
It’s a time to stop and reflect about the past year and, hopefully, to dwell on the good which has happened. I know that many of our Berkshire CIP students are doing that this season. They are finishing up their college classes or C-Step courses or their internships/jobs before leaving for the break (which many of them do not want to go on as they want to stay in Lee with their “friends”).
I took a look at our student list and I could not help but feel a sense of pride in them for their hard won accomplishments. There are other students which have achieved much this Fall Term but these particular students represent a cross section of our population. They internalized where they wanted to go and they stayed on track – not getting distracted by the day to day “stuff” which everyone comes up against on their individual journey. I would like to share some of those accomplishments with you. I think it is fitting to do so as we end the year and look forward to 2012.
There is Jimmy who is a second year student. Last year, he did not want to go to the local community college as he did not have the confidence to do so. After this Fall Term and doing so well, he is enrolled in three Berkshire Community College classes – one of them being Business Law.
Another student, Jacob, will be getting his AA Degree from BCC in the Spring of 2013 and then going onto a four year college to get his degree in Game Design. He’s in the process of building his own computer! According to his father, he could not have done it without the emotional, social and academic support he has received at CIP for the past year and a half.
Charlie is working towards his Physical Fitness Certificate at Berkshire Community College as he wants to be a personal trainer. He has overcome many “attitudinal” issues to achieve this goal and now he is in such a positive place that he wants to go for his AA. He’s working at a local gym not only doing some training but helping maintain the machinery – a two- pronged approach towards a career! This young man is in his third year at CIP and it took him until a few weeks ago to realize that he had to use staff and work with them if he wanted to reach his dream. It’s been smooth sailing since.
Jackie, a quiet young lady in her fifth year at CIP, now has her own car, lives in an apartment with another student and works full time at a local resort. Jackie needed time and assurance from staff (as did her parents!) that things would eventually fall in place for her. By working full time, she now receives health insurance, paid vacation time and other benefits. Jackie loves her independence and it shows in her beautiful smile.
And then there is Joe. Joe came in the Fall of 2010 and had a rough start. He did not want to take any college courses even though he has the intellectual capacity to do well. He was somewhat at a loss. It was not until the middle of this Fall Term that Joe happened on the idea of getting his CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) Certificate. He passed all of his quizzes and tests with nothing less than a 95%. Joe is delighted with his career choice and he will probably go on to become certified by the state. The best part of this success story is that Joe’s achievement in one area of his life has led him to feel successful in other areas. He now has the belief in himself to try climbing another rung or two up the ladder towards a life of being independent.
To me, these gifts are worth thinking about. We forget about what is real and important in life as we get inundated with TV news, People and Time Magazines and movies….just to name a few of the things which mold our perceptions and world views, rightly or wrongly. We forget that everyday our students, your children, struggle to achieve and carve out a place for themselves in this world. It is not always easy but when they do succeed, it is an indescribable feeling.
I wish that some of our parents could be present when a student comes into our offices to announce, “I got an A on my essay!”, or “I got a 95% on the midterm – whew!” or “I made all of my appointments this week.” These statements say a lot of their awareness of what they know they need to do in life. It should also say to us that Hope should never be sold short and that it should be one of our anchors in life. In this season of Hope, it’s nice to read about our students and know that Hope is something we should not give up on. I believe it really is in our DNA. I see it everyday in my students.
Warm and joyful wishes of the season to all.