I submitted this for Houston Texans’ Glover Quin’s inspirational story Facebook contest. I didn’t win, but I enjoyed writing it and thought I’d share it with anybody.
There was a moment where I felt like I needed to do something about my situation. My wife told me we were having our first child. But what?
We were check to check and I was working a “part time” gig at FEDEX waiting for a full time position to open, it didn’t. With my son Damian on the way my stress began to grow and my hair began to gray. I picked up another “part time” job.
I put it in quotations because there were days where I’d work from 3 a.m. to 8p.m. I’m not the only one! I know plenty of guys on the dock that go through this. It’s not uncommon to hear, “where else do you work,” because the American dream isn’t realized through winning lottery tickets.
Here’s the moment: I was awakened by the sound of ice hitting the windshield of my car. For an instant I didn’t know where I was. A lady asked if I was alright and I responded, “NO”. I was exhausted. So much so I had fallen asleep in line at the drive-thru of a local Jack in the Box. Thank God I didn’t take my foot off the brake pedal.
When I got home I told my wife this life wasn’t for me, this can’t be forever. I asked her to let me give school one more try and if I didn’t make it this time then I’d apply for a driver’s position as soon as one opened up. I enrolled at Houston Community College that fall.
This was it. I had everything I needed to get a four year degree. I did it everyday for the last four years. My schedule was hectic. I would wake up to work the graveyard shift then go to class year-round. I did everything I could to make it work. I learned on the fly how to make college work for me. I would wait countless hours in lines for financial aid, advising, and registration. I’d get old credit hours from other schools I had attended.
I also traded my newer car for a much older Chevy Cavalier. All that mattered to me at that point was getting my degree. My first semester was the hardest because I had plenty of self-doubt. I was 24 and I had tried school many times before, but I just wasn’t focused. But all I could think about was the old saying my middle school principal used to say “If it is to be it is up to me”.
I knew I wanted to be a sports reporter. Actually I want to anchor for Sportscenter. So algebra history whatever, bring it on! That’s how I felt. I’d heard people say that college isn’t for everyone, but I know that to be wrong. College is for everyone… who is willing to sacrifice their time.
I completed my first successful semester. I made the Dean’s list and also joined Phi Theta Kappa, the National Honor Society of the Two Year College. While earning my Associate’s degree at HCC I volunteered my time with PTK to various causes, including cleaning and gutting out Hurricane Ike ravaged homes in Galveston. I must have planted a hundred trees on Arbor Day. I never knew what it was like to give, because I had always needed growing up.
Two years went by and I found myself at Minute Maid Park. I saw myself on the big screen. I can remember as a kid doing everything I could to get on that screen at the dome. I did it. I was getting my Associates degree and I thought for a brief moment, phew! But reality sunk in and I was only half way done and it was time for me to face the last two years.
I told myself the University of Houston would be a breeze mainly because I would truly be interested in the classes I’d be taking. I was right, partially. Easy in the sense that my interest allowed me to stay motivated. But my schedule on the other hand told a different story. Because I knew professional experience would be essential to my future in journalism, I interned every semester starting that winter, including summers. I even took Saturday classes to ease up the workload during the week.
I felt like a robot because of my monotonous, broken record schedule. It was the same thing everyday work, school, internship and sleep. The hardest part was not so much the minimal sleep or the hectic schedule, but more so the lack of time with my family. I can remember going days without seeing my son. I’d step in his room and he’d be sound asleep. I’d remind myself that this was for the better.
The day came where I was seconds away from crossing the stage. It seemed like all those years in school were shorter than the minutes leading up to the handshake from President of the University of Houston Renu Khatur. There were so many things running through my mind that I became emotional. Tears formed. What happens to a dream deferred? Mine festered. But it didn’t die. It became a son’s desire to become what his father could hardly imagine as a child in Mexico working on the same land that his father did.
I thought it’d be downhill from that point. Quite the contrary… I’m still at Fedex and I just finished my fifth internship at the Children’s Museum of Houston. I’ve started an unpaid communications position with the Break Free Community Center in southeast Houston. I’ve been fortunate enough to help Bboy Moy Rivas, who’s traveled the world and is now home in Houston giving back to the community in a major way.
I’ve heard my work on the radio, appeared on the local news dressed as a cowboy, I’ve taken video of a brain surgery performed by one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons and taken pictures that are featured on the Children’s Museum’s website and although I haven’t found a job I feel accomplished because of the things I’ve done in the last four years.
With the all the work I’ve put in I’m sure something will become of it. I know that with God and my family’s support all things are possible and in the words of my favorite lyricist Common, “One day it’ll all make sense.”