OTL Summit Essay Contest
“Why an Opportunity to Learn is Important to Me.”
by Salonica Hunter
Winner, 14-17 Age Group
Two hundred years ago, my place in society would have been that of an illiterate slave girl, cooking, cleaning, and bearing children for my “master.” If I was to be caught in the process of educating myself, I would be severely punished. One hundred years ago, benighted people would have been my only example of who I could one day become. Fifty years ago, I would have had to attend a segregated school and use raggedy learning materials in order to receive basic knowledge on reading, writing, and mathematics, if I could be afforded this privilege. Today, if I didn’t have the opportunity to learn, I wouldn’t dare dream of chasing a career that would enable me to climb the professional ladder as an African-American Arkansan contributing to the Southern, agricultural-based society.
An opportunity for a good education is very important because I have goals that I desire to achieve and without that opportunity, I would have to settle for a low-class lifestyle, scraping from paycheck to paycheck. According to Fight Poverty, Doors to Diplomacy Web Project, statistics today show “nationally, 43% of people with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty, 17% receive food stamps, and 70% have no job or part-time job.” I refuse to be a statistic. There are so many opportunities to acquire a good education like college scholarships, state grants, and programs like Job Corp. I can use them to better myself and so can others do the same, no matter what predicament they are in. Without those opportunities, my aspirations would stay what they were – just dreams.
When I was younger, people asked me the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Today, I can proudly say that I plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Juris Doctorate in Civil Litigation serving as a defense attorney in the state of Arkansas. I have a fighting chance to get grasp the quality life I dream of. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of this nation, said, “An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second.” Therefore, I appreciate that now those blessings are easily accessible for me and with them, I have the tools to crop my own picture into this society.