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Sharing our success stories provides inspiration

2014 October 9
by HISD Communications

Robert Crowe is a gifted HISD videographer who is ordinarily a man of few words. His memorable images and skillful editing usually do the talking for him, but he gets fired up when discussing how the major perception with which he walked into district headquarters to start work five years ago has changed drastically.

Teaching is only one part of what HISD does, Robert says far more eloquently than I: Our educators must deal with the problems of our nation and the world. We cope daily with hunger, poverty, adult illiteracy, threats to health and safety, global politics, and so much more. He understands that sometimes a passing grade is an achievement, a semester of perfect attendance is a miracle, a parent attending a teacher conference a milestone.

Which brings me back to Robert’s storytelling. We’ve talked and written much about the success of our EMERGE youngsters — promising, hardworking high school students who frequently face the challenges I’ve mentioned, yet persevere to achieve. Through EMERGE, we’ve been able to take dozens of HISD students who ordinarily might have reached a dead-end and sent them to Ivy League and Tier One colleges, often at no cost to their families.

Recently, we released Robert’s “Story of Edgar,” the tale of Edgar Avina, who with the help of teachers who saw his promise and EMERGE mentors who guided him, has made his way from a barrio mobile home to DeBakey HS to Yale University. It’s a tale that shows what happens when we believe every young person is capable of success, and they have the inner drive to meet those high expectations.

Another wonderful EMERGE feature made its official debut this week, too — the EMERGING Voices blog. In their own words, EMERGE college students and current seniors navigating their way through the college application and admissions processes are telling their stories. They’re talking about things like homesickness, networking and organizing, memorable teachers, and the realization that many are spending their last year with their families before moving onto to higher education and careers.

Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan took note of the blog, which features Edgar’s tale, tweeting Wednesday: “Great that the @HoustonISD EMERGE program is helping underserved students reach top colleges.”

Any young person or adult has something to learn from the stories of Edgar and other EMERGE fellows, who are willing to work hard and dream big — turning obstacles into stepping stones to a future beyond their most vivid imaginations.

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