The cold air was chilly, as I made my way to the store. Outside the entrance was a young Chicano couple asking for spare change. It really hurt to see this because it was right before Christmas and at their age they should be working and not been in such a dire situation. I remember years back another instance, only this time it was an elderly man who had obviously misspent his youth on [i]parrandas]/i]. I watched as he wrapped his old worn out coat as best he could around his body while trying to get some sleep on a park bench, in the freezing cold.
Having grown up in the barrio, I know just how tough life can be. However, I have also learned that the choices one makes as a young person, greatly influences the future of one's life as well as the lives of our loved ones. So I always share my experiences with young people, experiences gleaned from the tough streets of the barrio and built upon how to avoid most of the serious problems one encounters in life. Since in reality, it seems that most of our problems are self-imposed. I tell young people that the choices they make each day will make the sum of their total success tomorrow, and in well into the future.
Almost every day, we turn the television on and hear the news blaring, someone is murdered in a drive by shooting, robbery, or drug deal gone bad, and I often wonder if most of these types of tragedies can be avoided? I truly believe they can,
but it takes all of us working together to teach our young people what is right and what is just plain wrong. As to the ways of achieving a true measure of success, there is nothing better than seeing a young person smile when they realize just how wonderful education really is.
Unfortunately today, many of our Hispanic traditions rich in true valor, nobleness of heart, and honor have been lost, and been replaced by myths and fantasy. Teachings of just how young people should live their lives have been neglected and replaced by teachings about senseless violence, binge drinking, and hard partying. Who really cares about something as mundane and dumb as getting a higher education, right? One can always get a job, and raise a family with just a low wage job right? Wrong!
The world is changing quickly, and along with it the needs of our young people to get a higher education grows. In order to compete for higher wage jobs and careers now and in the future, our young people need to be prepared. No longer is it possible for Hispanic youth, to just sit idly by as spectators and watch others take the very best jobs.
Hispanics teens have the highest dropout rate from school in the United States, and this is completely unacceptable. It is time for every Hispanic teen to make themselves a New Year's resolution for 2012. And what should this resolution be? The promise, that each one shall attain a college education for themselves. Hispanic teens need to realize that a low wage job will only pay the bills but a high wage career will give them all of the success that they deserve!
Frank Solis is a Chicano creative writer, poet and songwriter from San Antonio, Texas. He seeks to help Hispanic youth and seek to inspire them to reach for the stars and obtain a higher education and the success that comes with it. Author's website