Community Spotlight: A Parents’ Dream
By Carlton Grant
Dear Little Black Village,
Here is the story of my girl. She is the only child from my marriage and we came to America when she was three years old. This means that practically she grew up here in New York all her life. To me, her story is an example of how a child from a poor background can make it big with determination and proper guidance from parents.
Except for the first 4 school years of schooling when she attended Catholic Schools, she was schooled in New York City public schools system – from elementary to high school.
Over the years as she went through the school system, she made a number of friends along the way, some of whom are among her circle of best friends even today. In her early teenage years, these friends were of some influence in her life and we as parents expected that. Thank God, however, these friends came from good homes with good morals and so their influence was nothing bad. Notwithstanding that, we constantly guided her in the things that are right and acceptable in society and the things that are not. For instance, she was taught to speak the truth always, no matter the consequence. We instilled the value of completing school and getting a good education. Most importantly, we taught her not to follow anyone and prematurely get into the “boyfriend” business because that could spell trouble and disrupt her education. She listened!!
Her adherence to our advice came with a price. Time and again others would ask her how is it she does not have a boyfriend and it bothered her somewhat. Luckily, we have an open relationship with her and so she would tell us these things and give us a chance to guide her. My advice never wavered … Get an education first. That’s the ticket to independence. Boyfriend can get up and leave any time and without a sound education, young ladies are more likely to fall apart after boyfriend dumps them. The reason being, they are educationally ill-equipped to sustain themselves, and without a solid base, desperation sets in. This is especially true of youngsters from poor background. We instilled these values and principles in her and she listened.
After high school she wanted to attend college and her eyes were set on universities like Harvard, Yale, Columbia and other big name schools. The problem was, we could not afford to finance those high price schools. She understood and after some research settled for University at Albany (New Your state university). That’s where she received her first degree (BA), and graduated with first honors. She had reached the basic educational level we wanted for her. But she wanted more. She enrolled to do a graduate degree at Northeastern University in Boston. Financially I was in no position to fund her school and board. But that did not deter her. On her own she sought out scholarships to pay for her schooling and worked at restaurants (Legal Seafoods, Ruth’s Chris) at nights to pay for room and board. She completed her master’s degree in 1 year and 6 months and graduated with first honors.
After leaving Boston she moved back home and was about to go job hunting when that same week a professor who had taught her as an undergraduate at University at Albany called her to say the university was offering 2 scholarships in the doctoral program and he thought of her. The professor whose first name is Carl (dont recall his last name) said he never forgot this young Jamaican/American girl from his Political Science class – the youngest in his class at the time. He recalled how focused and disciplined she was and he knew she had what it takes to succeed.
She accepted the offer and within a month she was off to Albany University again, this time as a doctoral student. In the last year and a half of her doctoral studies her performance had been so outstanding that they offered her a part-time teaching position at the university, teaching undergraduate students. She was simply the best. Her two awards from Albany University for outstanding teaching and performance are testament that my claim to her achievements is not an embellishment by a father of his daughter, but indeed a reflection of truth. She is the living example of how much a youngster can achieve when they follow the proper guidance of parents. I remember telling her once, that if she believes I love her with all my heart, then she is to believe that I will only lead her towards good.
The long and short of the story is, in May 2012 (this year) she graduated with her PhD. I sat in that auditorium and watched as she received not just her diploma but several awards for outstanding research and performance. What is even more striking is that the title of “Doctor” was awarded her 5 months before her 26th birthday.
I tell my story not to boast for she alone has boasting rights. My aim is to show how our youngsters can achieve great things if the follow the sound advice of their parents and adults who have their 100% interest at heart. I hope this will inspire and encourage somebody out there.
By Carlton Grant
Brooklyn, New York