On Capitol Hill and the many policy organizations in DC, folks are experts on seminal education policies like No Child Left Behind and the Higher Education Act. However, what is often missing is the real world connection to the issues that impact students on a daily basis.
We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own. - Cesar Chavez.
This quote perfectly captures why I choose to volunteer with the Reading All-Stars program at Tubman Elementary in Columbia Heights. In the Fall of 2010, I moved to the Georgia Petworth area to pursue graduate school at the University of Maryland. This provided an opportunity for me to give back to my local community while participating in a wonderful program in Columbia Heights. Through Reading All-Stars, I not only helped students improve their reading skills but also served as a role model for the next generation of our nation’s leaders. As a Latino male, I felt an added level of responsibility to volunteer for Reading All-Stars and work with the predominantly Hispanic population at Tubman Elementary. Through tutoring sessions and individual outreach to families in Columbia Heights, I helped raise the students’ aspirations for completing high school and obtaining a post-secondary credential. Although I contributed to help shaping the lives of students in the program, they contributed much more to shaping my life. Through conversations with them and their families, I learned a great deal about the history of Salvadorians in Washington, DC and the true meaning of determination.