September 12, 2016
We asked Jennifer Brady, "Why is education important?" She tells how her parents encouraged the pursuit of her educational goals from an early age, and what her own hopes are for her children.
Learning is the key to understanding human dynamics and the evolution of the current environment in which we live, work, relate and exist as an interconnected society. Education provides us with the knowledge, experience and diversity needed to understand and apply to everyday problem solving. It is a standard set, a path formed, a proven idea from an unstructured hunch, a better way, an answered question. The more we learn, the better we evolve through common understanding of key principles and can be part of evolving them to higher standards. Without education, our world becomes far more narrow, isolated and uninformed.
As a first generation college graduate, I was encouraged early by my parents to continue to further my education, as this wasn't an option for them. They saw the path to my success only being achieved through having earned a college degree. They fostered a very strong work ethic in me very early on and while we knew paying for school would be extremely difficult, with hard work and determination, it was possible. They were right. I worked three jobs to put myself through school, paid student loans for 10 years after graduating, but pulled it off well.
I explored a number of disciplines through my liberal arts education from child development psychology, art history, graphic design and law to communications, business and social work. I was able to hold class office three years running, chair social committees, have membership in University judicial boards, be a member of the Glee Club and Chamber Singers and travel the world, even singing for the Pope in the Papal Audience. These and so many more experiences really helped me explore what I liked, loved (and really didn't love), what I was good (and bad) at, what challenged me and ultimately, help form my choice for my career path forward.
Education continues to be an integral part of my life. I am a work in progress. I never consider myself done in terms of learning, growing, gaining more experiences, understanding new perspectives, exploring and continuing to shape understanding of myself, the world around me and how I can make a difference.
The evolution of my education has broadened my knowledge and experience through exposure to subject matter experts, varying views and thoughts, critical and creative thinking, problem solving, working with diverse populations and personalities in and out of the classroom, conflict resolution and overcoming challenges. It is far more than gaining knowledge about a subject matter; education is fully shaped from the experiences and enriched discussion you gain from your faculty and peers and what you learn about yourself while learning.
What an amazing feeling it is to learn! That moment it clicks, or the moment you relate new learning to something that you had once questioned. As a mom, I experience this through the eyes of my kids all the time. It is just as exciting to witness them having these great light-bulb moments, getting jazzed up about reading a book or working on a school project.
I hope never to stop learning. I hope always to be the support and encouragement for my kids, as my parents were for me, and instill this insatiable quest for learning in them as well.
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