OTL Summit Essay Contest
“Why an Opportunity to Learn is Important to Me.”
by Zipporah Bell
Winner, 11-13 Age Group
An opportunity to learn is often taken for granted and tossed away into the category of “Just- Another-Privilege.” However, in numerous ways, this opportunity is important to me. For instance, I am currently an 8th grader at Monticello Middle School. I live in Southeast Arkansas. The education statistics for 8th grade writing is at 19%. Shocking? This is just one example of our low percentages in the education department in Arkansas. However, I want to be able to be a role model in my community by using the opportunities available to me in order to excel in my intelligence. I know that all things are possible if you believe and try your hardest; you can do anything in whatever momentary situation you may be in.
Education will always be a part of my life. As an African American girl, the legacy of my ancestors proved to be one of suffering and fighting for the cause of education, the same cause that is now neglected. In reference to the national education system, integration/de-segregation didn’t happen in school until 1958. Only fifty-four years ago, this change was a giant step towards intellectual empowerment for African Americans. That is why one of my favorite African American role models is the Little Rock Central Nine. They are very dear to me because their movement happened in Arkansas, the state where I live. They inspired me to refuse to waste my opportunity to have a better life, instead of being in bondage. This bondage is when a person is mentally in prison because they aren’t aware of everything offered in this world, because they lack the education to understand this. I refuse to be mentally “locked-up.”
I will always choose to take advantage of my opportunity to learn because my life depends on it, and so do the lives of the many generations to come. As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”