This end-of-the-school-year season is always inspiring because it brings to light the limitless potential of our young people. As students are promoted, graduate and receive degrees we celebrate the success that results from determination, hard work and the guidance of committed parents, educators and mentors. When they match their God-given intelligence with diligence, discipline and focused goals, our young people can – and do – soar to the heights!
Particularly inspiring are the students who overcome enormous obstacles (family tragedy, personal trauma, physical or psychological challenges, financial hardship, etc.) and achieve personal greatness -- often without much fanfare. A personal hero of mine is my nephew, Devin Turner (son of my brother and sister-in-law, Kevin and Debbie Turner). Devin rose above the perceived limitations of autism and the low expectations of some defeatist educators, boosted his GPA, conquered the CAHSEE exam and earned his diploma (not "certificate of completion" but his diploma!) from Pasadena High School.
There are countless kids like Devin. Students who courageously stay the course despite the roadblocks in front of them and the turbulence around them and press on to reach goals that may have seemed beyond their grasp. These students, and the tireless adults who motivate and encourage them, are sources of immeasurable pride and inspiration to us all!
Tragically, some of our young people quit on education without making their best effort. Far too many of our kids succumb to the tranquilizing siren song of misaligned social values anchored by the age-old lie that says black and brown kids are not supposed to be successful students. The lie that equates academic excellence, proper grammar and a love of learning with selling out or "acting white."
We must carve out these debilitating, ignorant notions like the cancerous falsehoods that they are! And we must continually remind our youth that scholastic and intellectual achievement is basic to their cultural heritage. From the builders the pyramids, through the scholars of Timbuktu and Cordoba', the astronomers and mathematicians of the Aztec Empire, through the slaves and laborers who taught themselves to read, write and 'cipher on down to the present day . . . OUR PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SMART!
The Bible teaches that we are all "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139) and that we "can do all things through him (God) who strengthens" us (Philippians 4:13). The creator of the universe made each person special, unique and amazing. And he programmed us with the talent and aptitude to achieve greatness – even to surpass our wildest dreams. These glorious truths are exemplified by the graduates and student achievers we salute at this wonderful time of year. May they continue to soar and, in their soaring, inspire others to spread their intellectual wings and take flight to their beautiful destinies!
Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.