Monday, January 08, 2007

My OTHER Blessing

Last week was my son's week. This week belongs to my daughter. She is a senior at a top-notch university, double majoring in Educational Studies and Business, with a minor in Psychology. She joined a sorority as a freshman and my husband and I were both puzzled by this. Let's just say fraternities and sororities were not in vogue at our college in the early 70s. Our view of fraternities and sororities was similar to the stereotypes found in the movie Animal House. She explained that the frats and sororities at her school accomplished much philanthropic good and so she joined, even as we questioned if this extra time commitment was such a good idea in a high pressure school.

Over the years she has been elected to officer positions and this week she will be ending her one year term as President. Her chapter has contributed much in philanthropic work under her watch, the capstone being a fundraiser (or FUNraiser, as they prefer to call them) in which they made over $6,000 to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She has told us that the experience in running her sorority was invaluable and mentioned it was akin to running a small business. Along the way she has also found some lifelong "sisters" - something she never had before.

My daughter would like to continue her education with law school. She would eventually like to work in the field of Educational Policy and Child Advocacy. She interned with the Children's Defense Fund last summer and loved the experience. I believe her interest partially stems from watching the years of struggle as we tried to get support services for her brother who has learning disabilities. Her thought was that if two committed and educated upper middle-class parents had trouble negotiating "the system" to get an appropriate education for their child, what were the chances that parents mired in poverty could?

However, my daughter is taking a detour on the way to law school. Today she found out she was accepted by the Teach for America program. Teach for America is a very successful non-profit organization that trains college graduates to be teachers and places them in underprivileged neighborhood schools across the country for a two year teaching commitment. The application and screening process is very rigorous. Last year about 17,000 college graduates applied to the program and roughly 3,000 were accepted. But as my daughter explains it, the program is selective, not competitive - everyone who passes the TFA criteria is accepted. In addition to exacting admissions criteria and three rounds of interviews, the program is also successful because each TFA teacher really wants to be in the program. I can attest to that - when my daughter called today to give me the news she was so excited - she was jumping-up-and-down-shrieking excited.

Again, my husband and I had doubts about the wisdom of our daughter joining TFA. Why not head straight to law school? Why delay the rest of your life for two years? Why place yourself in a neighborhood that may be dangerous? Our daughter countered with perfect logic that neither of her parents - both trained as engineers - could refute. She was adamant in telling us that if she was going to devote her life to educational policy then she had better know what it is like to be a teacher and what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis. Can't argue with that, huh?

Of course, my husband and I are still concerned about the neighborhood she will be teaching in. Every day there are articles in the paper about random violence, gang shootings and students bringing weapons into school. But we can't think of that. We have to trust this 21 year old woman who has shown time and again that she can make good choices and knows what is best for her. We have to step back and let her begin her own life. She will be fine, I'm sure. I have a hunch even her parents will be fine.


BobCiz said...

Your daughter's choice and logic in making that choice is admirable. She sounds like the kind of person who will be successful in anything she does. Obviously her parents did a great job raising her.

QUASAR9 said...

Wow Sunflower, Congrats!
Awesome daughter you have.
And if she got the best from her sororority, let us hope "the system" doesn't gnaw away at her altruism and resolve - and she continue to advocate the rights of those less able.

Incidentally, very topical in blightey where the previos Labour education minister has just sent her child to a 'private' special needs school.

No one, not even her Labour peers will argue that a mother should have the right to choose the best for her children (especially if with learning difficulties) but many do wonder why it is only available to those who can pay - and why she closed down so many special schools (92) when she was education minister.

Of course one must taylor for needs and parental preferences
1) mainstream education with special help for those with needs
2) specialist schools for those not progressing in mainstream
3) or even education from home - for those more seriously impaired and with at least one of the parents able to take on a full-time of carer/educator.

But the 'choice' should be there regardless of ability to pay - as for parental preferences - well we have to put trust somewhere ...

After all it is not uncommon even among 'normal' students for some to feel their parents fxxked up their lives - because of whatever decisions the parents made in their life, and may have even thought they made in the child's best interest.
Alas the world is not perfect, yet.
But it is those with 'goodwill' help to make it a little better for others too

Kat Campbell said...

Sunflower, wow, what a daughter! She's right, what an advocate she will be after walking in the shoes of those she will be helping. How do you keep from just bursting with pride?

Dr.John said...

I'm not too sure of her parents but your daughter will be fine.She sounds like you raised a great child in the daughter.

CreekHiker said...

Sunflower, Congratulations! It sounds like you raised her well. I didn't join a sorority until my junior year but can honestly say, it was an awesome experience. I learned as much there as I did in college!

Velvet Sacks said...

Wow, Sunflower, what an amazing daughter you've raised. She sounds like she has a really good head on her shoulders--and a really good heart to go along with it. You must be SO proud!

Sunflower Optimism said...

She has great ambition to do the "right thing," Bob. I think she grew up to be a terrific young adult despite her parents, LOL.

Thank you, Quasar, I also think she is awesome :-) Here, each child is entitled to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment - they try to keep them with their peers, as much as possible. That is all theoretical of course - too many children don't get the services they need to be successful. The schools just promote and process them through. Hopefully my daughter - and others like her - will change that.

Kat, to be honest I'm scared to death - but yes, bursting my buttons too.

Yes, Dr. John, I know she will be fine. We raised her - but you know, she has taught me more than a thing or two, over the years.

Desiree said...

Wow! That's one wise daughter you raised there! You must be so proud!!!

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

I am so thrilled for her and grateful to you both for raising such a daughter. The world needs committed loving folks who are willing to work for justice and fairness. She is a blessing not just to you but to the world. "All will be well," Mom!

Sunflower Optimism said...

CH - that's what my daughter says about her sorority. In addition to having a blast with her friends, she said she has learned how to organize, set and follow up agendas, deal with people, plan programs, delegate, etc. It was a good decision for her, even though my husband and I were clueless.

Velvet, she has always been very compassionate, from her toddler days. She has always been a delight (except for some of those mid-teen years - you must remember those! LOL)

Yes, Desiree, she is wise - she sloughs off hurtful things that happen to her and concentrates on the good - a lesson I have learned from her time and again.

Thank you Rev. Kate - I never looked at it that way before. Everyone who goes out there to make the world a little bit better is a blessing!

Jackie said...

Sunflower, congrats, you've obviously done a terrific job with that girl. Isn't it amazing to watch them branch and grow in their own directions!?

Sunil said...

Thats is noble and I am glad that your daughter is doing that. Not too sure how you would take it though.. The way you have described your daughter reminds me of the girl who writes this blog (very educated but committed to helping people)... Check this out when you get a chance...

The Artist said...

You must be very proud of your daughter and the way she has recognised and is following her life's path, best wishes, The Artist

Sunflower Optimism said...

Jackie, it is interesting to see where they go. My husband and I both have degrees in engineering - both our children are liberal arts majors. Oh, where did we go wrong? LOL

PS - I think your brown hair looks great! You just aren't used to the "big" change.

Sunflower Optimism said...

No Sunil, my daughter is a far better person than I am. Which is as it should be. If each generation learns from the mistakes of the previous and improves upon it, then as a whole humanity will move forward.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Many thanks to The Artist for your kind wishes. We are very proud of her - she is very clearheaded with a tremendous empathy for others.

Mark said...

You have so much to be proud of! What an excellent job you have done raising your children.
Sounds like your daughter is very much in tune with her purpose and as much as you want to keep her out of harms way, trust that she knows her purpose and this decision that she has made is a very important aspect of her staying on her purpose.

Dr.John said...

I need your mail address.
Send to

Dr. John

Jackie said...

OMG, Sunflower, my T is a retired engineer - you don't fit the mold to me! You don't seem a bit anal to me. :-)

MamaLee said...

Hi there! You found MY blog, and now I've found YOURS! Wow, what a wonderful daughter you have there. I know you are bursting with pride and scared to death. All will be fine. Have faith.

And I hope you can teach ME a few things along the way, being an older mom of 3 young children. you've already been through all of this wonderful craziness we call preschool!

I can only hope that my children turn out as well as yours. Thanks for being my big sis. I'll be reading your blog today onward.


Secret Simon said...

Congratulations to you and your daughter on her success! It is wonderful to have such a strong sense of purpose at such a young age. All too often, that doesn't come till later in life, when other commitments have already been made. If only I'd had such a wise head on my shoulders when I was your daughter's age!

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thanks Mark, we are proud of her. We must have done something right, but mostly it comes from her. Both our children are pretty terrific - but in different ways - sometimes it is hard for me to believe they came from the same parents!
Yep, guilty as charged, Jackie I'm an engineer and do tend to be anal about most things, although sometimes I "pick and choose" - for example, definitely not anal about housework!
Thanks for stopping by, Mamalee. You are so right, it hinges on faith, once they leave the nest. You will do just fine by your three little ones - you have so much love for them - and a great sense of humor, which will stand you in good stead! I used to work in CT many years ago - Stratford, Avco Lycoming. That was a lifetime ago.
Simon, I wish I had such a wise head now - I still have to decide what I want to be when I grow up! LOL Seriously, with them both in college now, I need to find something interesting to do with my life.

sandy said...

Congratualtions! What a great daughter you have sunflower, you must be so proud and I am sure she will go far. You have a good hearted and talented family.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thanks Sandy. She is a good kid and a much better person than I am. She is much more forgiving and doesn't get ruffled as easily as I do. I guess she learned from my mistakes ;-)

I am scared to death about this TFA position she is taking - but at the same time, so very proud of her.

Jennifer said...

Wow Sunflower... you have some great children... I love young people who are making a difference, who are using their gifts, talents, and live to bring goodness and beauty to this world! YAY!!!


Sunflower Optimism said...

Thanks for visiting, Jennifer. You know, there are so many young people I know who are giving of themselves and making a difference to others. The younger generation gets a lot of bad press, but there are so many out there who are making positive changes in this world. They don't get enough credit.

I have tremendous hope for the world.