Education can transform your life but you have to be willing to dream big and take ownership of your education. That was the message University of the Virgin Islands President David Hall brought to students at John H. Woodson Junior High School on St. Croix.
“Higher education really can make a difference in your life,” Hall told the class of seventh- and eighth-graders in the Advancement Via Individual Determination classroom. “It can transform your life and that’s why this program (AVID) is so important, because it’s trying to get you to focus on it now so you can avoid some of those obstacles.”
Hall said obstacles to success include not finishing school, having no job or leading a life of crime.
Accomplishing something in life begins with having a dream, he said. "You have to have a vision for your life that’s what you want your life to be."
School and higher education can give them the tools they need but only if they take ownership of it, he continued.
"You have to believe that, ‘This education is for me. It’s not for the teachers; it’s not even for my parents; I’m doing this for me because it’s going to make a difference in my life,’" he said.
“If you come to UVI, which I hope you do, maybe five, six years from now after I’m gone from there maybe, but I still want you to go there and I still want to do whatever I can to inspire you to stay on the pathway,” Hall said.
He also urged the students to be determined, to keep striving for excellence, to have second options and be disciplined.
The students appreciated Hall’s visit. “I’m glad he took time out to come to our school and classroom,” said seventh-grader Franchel Rodriguez. “He helped me start thinking about college.”
Rodriguez and other classmates asked questions about the marine biology, engineering, criminology, music production and basketball programs at UVI.
And after Hall described the obstacles he had to overcome to accomplish his educational and career goals, they got casual and asked him about his birthplace, how tall he was (6 feet, 7 inches) and if he could touch the roof.
Woodson’s AVID facilitator Nancy Graham said the school’s early college prep program is three years in its infancy and for now is in a single classroom of 30 students.
AVID is a 30-year-old college readiness system for elementary through higher education. It is designed to increase schoolwide learning and performance and to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in the global community, according to the program’s website at www.avid.org.