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La Liga de Las Americas



De Parte del Maestro

By Josh Flores

Not college material? Neither was I!

So here you are, a teen staring your future dead in the face. What do you see? Nothing? Not sure? It’s a little hazy? Crystal clear?

Either way, let me assure you it’s not abnormal. Actually, to know exactly what you want to do ‘with the rest of your life’ at your age is not typical. So respira, you are not alone.

To expect to know where you want your future to go at this point in your life is a heavy load to shoulder, but let me tell you this, you have to do something. So the question you really need to ask yourself is: ‘Do I want to determine my future, or do I want my future determined for me?’ 

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The fact of the matter is, if you do not have a plan for your future, then there is a good chance you will find yourself in five to ten years looking back, scratching your head saying, ‘how did I end up here?’ That is not a place you want to be. 

So how do you develop a plan for your future? Here are few things that can help guide you in setting a good foundation for your future. Think about what you really enjoy doing. I have to stress that I mean beyond sports, acting, singing, rapping, or dancing.

I do not want to sound like a pessimist, but I am a realist and the reality is there is a very slim chance that you will make it big and become a celebrity or professional athlete. Trust me, I know it can happen, and if that is your dream, pursue it, but just remember, you will have to commit yourself totally. 

Just in case you aren’t the next Pit Bull, Eva Longoria, Alex Rodríguez, Shakira, or Daddy Yankee, it is good to have a backup plan. So think about what you enjoy, whether it is art, computers, children, building things, fashion, travel, math, animals, helping people, or nature—there is a career path that you can follow in that area. 

What you need to do is find out what it is and explore it. Having a solid future will take some work on your part.

When I was growing up, I moved frequently; I went to six different elementary schools in Toledo, Phoenix, and Denver. The constant adjustment of being the ‘new kid’ did take a toll on my grades.

I was an average student and even through high school I was never targeted as a college bound student simply because my transcripts didn’t indicate I was ‘college material.’ However, there are a number of things that a transcript can’t measure or reveal; things like passion, leadership, personal history, street smarts, and heart

I lived a life of struggle and through that struggle I developed all of these qualities. I also had some remarkable teachers who saw the potential in me and encouraged and challenged me. To them, I will be forever grateful. 

On the other hand, I had some very poor teachers who overlooked me and just saw me as a hood, clown, or simply average. To them, I am equally grateful because they taught me how not to interact with youth and inspired me to develop an ‘I’ll show them’ attitude. I did have that attitude, but it was more like ‘I am going to be the best me and then they will see they were wrong.’

Regardless if you are at the top of your class, in the middle of the pack, or a cellar dweller, you can make things happen for yourself. 

The key is finding your niche in life and dedicating yourself to it. If you are in junior high, a freshman, or sophomore then you should know that what you do in high school is what really matters if you want to go to college. If that is your goal, then you need to take your academics seriously and voice to your guidance counselors that you plan to go to college. 

This is important because history and statistics are against you. Many Latinos don’t make it out of high school, let alone make it through college. So you may have to work that much harder to break down walls and blaze trails. If you are an upper classman and you have made a few ‘mistakes’ in school then ‘don’t be sorry, be better’—my favorite classroom quote.

I found myself in the same situation in high school. I had a few life changing experiences during my sophomore year that made me realize that life catches up with you quickly and that I better start doing something with it or I might not be here too much longer. 

So I changed and started taking school and life seriously. Along with my best friend, I started getting good grades and we challenged each other through friendly competition. The result? We made honor roll every quarter our junior and senior years and still only graduated with 2.0 GPA. 

However, today, he is working on his PhD at Michigan State University and I am working on my Master’s degree at Bowling Green State University. The point is, it is not too late to make a change and improve your life.  

So you don’t want go to college? That is ok, if you have a plan because college is not for everyone. If you are into building or mechanical type things, then the building trades are a great option. Investigate, for example, the Alliance of Construction Professionals.

If you like mechanics, then look into two-year programs at Owens, Lorain County, or Cleveland community colleges or another school near you. Maybe you like cosmetology. There are a number of schools in the area. No matter what you like there is a career path for you. 

Don’t let life dictate what will happen to you. Be assertive and aggressive, because after all, it is your future.

¡Hasta la próxima la vez!

 

 

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