Big decisions come at an early age

The Education Report welcomes another student voice to the blog: Diamond Broussard, a junior at Skyline High School, who will occasionally contribute her musings on high school life. If other students would like to submit pieces for consideration, they can e-mail me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com. -Katy

dbroussardresize.jpgAs my senior friends are graduating and moving on to better things and prepping for their futures, and as they have overcome the drama of choosing a college that suits their career goal — or for that matter, any goal  — my junior friends and I are beginning to have a little anxiety about the future.

Often times we are pressured by family members or friends or teachers to know exactly what we want to be and what we want to achieve in life. Although I have known since junior high school that I want to attend a university and later have a career in fashion, and more specifically own my own boutique, other classmates are unsure of what path to choose, for many reasons, but one in particular: what job is right for my GPA or IQ.

My friend Christina and I had a conversation about how important being smart is when considering colleges. I told her that she did not have to worry because whatever she did she would excel in because, quite frankly, she’s a genius. Then she made me realize that smart is not everything because while she is knowledgeable, she is unsure of how to use it. Finally she said,”I’ll probably just get a business degree or something.”

Her statement stuck out to me like a sore thumb. Why should and why do intelligent people often limit themselves to jobs in business or accounting or engineering? Furthermore, why does everyone else expect these intelligent people to follow these paths? Is being successful, i.e. having money, that important?

Many times I will see a television show in which a parent is unhappy with their child who was all set to be a lawyer or a doctor when they suddenly decided to change their career to something less, how do you say. . . profitable. Still, it makes them happy. I say reach for the stars. How amazing would one seem if they were a model, yet had a law degree?

When considering big name colleges, big name universities, and big name careers, it is beyond important to consider if these paths will give one a big smile. Simple, said, and done.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://myspace.com/albinoariebizzle Diamond

    So I hope you guys enjoy! Feel free to leave a comment or web page.

  • Erin M.

    very good article Diamond. I think another issue is that many highschoolers don’t know about the importance of going to college. Many students don’t have a plan at all about they’re future after high school.

  • Charles Wilson

    I was Diamond’s Third Grade teacher at Sequoia Elementary. Diamond, I’ve always known that you will be a big success at anything you attempt! You’re obviously an amazing young woman, based on the positive attitude you express in your writing. You truly were a joy to have in class, someone who inspired a cranky teacher (me) to be better each day! You’ve hit the nail on the head: Choose happiness over material wealth; choose your own spirit over what others want you to reflect for them!

    Come by and see me sometime! I’m now the principal at the Fred Koremtasu Discovery Academy on 105th Ave. I try to keep smiling, and now it will be even easier knowing that you’re out there, keeping your positive voice loud and clear!

  • Nextset

    Here’s my response to some of the above: many parents want you to get that law degree or whatever degree first, and open the boutique second – for very good reasons. You should listen carefully.

    Education is forever. If you get it, they don’t take it back. It is far easier to nail down the graduate degree when you are 22 than 35. We know, we’ve seen people do it at both ages. Your parents may be able to help when you are 22 but maybe not when you are 35.

    I went to law school at 22. One of my classmates was 21 when he got his law degree. I have relatives who are specialty physicians. If any of us had stopped to smell the roses we doubt we’d have made it. Things happen when you get older – things happen fast, planned or not. Tuition increases, the economy fails, there is more competition, etc. Sometimes in life you have an opportunity that isn’t going to wait. If you don’t take it someone else will and you don’t know when things will work out again in the future.

    We all know people, friends, who dropped away when they decided not to do the work, do the application, not to do the classes, to go back “maybe later”. They are no longer “with” us. Nothing anybody can do about that, it just happens.

    Anyway, things are getting a little tough in this country. take all the education you can. And keep an ear open for something or some field that interests you. But go as far as you can in school and professional training. You can always open a boutique on the side when you are 35. Stay in school you have opportunities to get to a higher level that interests you, it’s a great investment. And the costs to have it tends to go up anyway which means your training becomes more valuable. If the opportunity is there, go for it.

  • http://myspace.com/albinoariebizzle Diamond

    Thanks Erin, Mr. Wilson and nextset! I really appreciate you guyses responses. I also do understand the importance of education and how much easier it is when you are young. I just don’t think that one should sacrifice their happiness for it.

  • Auntie Geri

    Diamond, You mke some very good points. There is no reason why one must know what they want to do in life while they are in High School. If you do, that’s great. If not, have patience with yourself. The right path will come to you.

  • Nextset

    “Sacrifice your happiness for it…” Diamond, you are in no position to know what your happiness is. Talk to people who did the 4 year degrees and then the advanced degrees. That’s where they met their spouses, they traveled, & they were handed life they didn’t know was there for them. College and Grad School was the best party time I and my friends ever had. If things get too boring you can always join a political campaign.

    One relative of mine was from a large family and a broken home. I remember them having no heat for awhile, over a year. She went to Iowa for college – she got a free ride scholarship upon High School Graduation in Richmond (we’re black). She never heard of the place (the state or school). They sent her to Spain to study on an undergraduate foreign exchange (a generation ago). They made the financing work for her. She met and married a student there who is now a lawyer. They have a family. She lives extremely well. On one of her infrequent visits back to the USA she and I walked through a mall and watched the black kids pushing baby carriages while screaming and fighting with each other. She shook her head. She has a career, a family, a life on the other side of the world because she answered a piece of mail from a college and state she never heard of. She was the first in her family to even visit outside of the country. She said she will never move back to the USA. I wouldn’t either with a Townhouse in her town and a platial Villa outside of town. She travels all over Europe like we go to Los Angeles. These are some of the stories I hear, about the difference between family and friends who went to college and grad school and those who didn’t.

    At 18 you are too young (sorry, but true) to know what can happen. Your job is to make yourself ready for the brass ring when it comes around. Then grab it. Go to the most interesting and promising school you can. Then ask them what is the best they can offer you. Look for your happiness after you have given the world a chance to show you the nice merchandise, not before. The selection gets better that way.

    My comment about the political campaigns had a point. With college membership your ability to join anything at a higher level becomes real. You are not a window washer, you are in line to become a peer. That’s what separates the ruling/professional classes of the USA from the others. No one is about to let a High School graduate handle real money, responsibilty or power – or a boutique. If you have to earn your way in life you will find it’s more practical to have college and professional training to do so. And if you get off track at age 18 you run down the odds of catching up to your cohorts later. You would do well to not play against the odds on this. You want a boutique, get a business degree and a fashion background also.

    While it’s possible you can do well as a HSG – what are the odds? It’s a losing hand.

  • Doowhopper

    Just a few thoughts on Diamond’s reflections and a few of the follow up comments:
    College and education as a whole is not about getting a “good job”. In my humble opinion, it should make you a BETTER PERSON, a well rounded individual who excels physically, intellectually and spiritually. Without a balance in those three spheres of life, you are nothing but a drone in the souless corporate world of 2008 capitalism.
    I was subbing at a school yesterday and saw a poster that simply said, “Education=Money”. Something really troubled me about that. Why does each generation have to learn the hard way that money and things will NEVER fill that emptiness inside? My generation-the baby boomers-are probably the worst offenders because we extolled the virtues of living life free of the stifling rules of a repressive society and then became the most obnoxious group of yuppies and consumer freaks in history.
    Don’t be like us, Diamond. Its a dead end street.

  • Nextset

    Doowhopper: The problem with people who had the potential to take advanced education and don’t is that they are sticking to their comfort zones and are either afraid to strike out on their own or perhaps too lazy to make the effort. You are right about education being good for it’s own sake and making the student a better human being. But we don’t get to tell other people that they have to do something arduous because it would please US to make them over.

    Thus the Education=Money posters.

    Parents are rightly concerned that the child will go wanting in life if uneducated, and the parents know that after adulthood they can no longer protect and maintain the child. Thus the comments like what Diamond mentioned, the pressure from family to go to college.

    The kids had better get it straight that this brave new world is going to get much colder than in the recent past. Either you fit in in this society and have some ability to live where you want and support yourself or you can get into a bread line (so to speak). Education improves the chances of a better life. Nothing more need be said.

    If a child rejects opportunities at age 18-22 to take education there is little reason (historically) to expect such opportunities to be there in the future when they are required to support themselves and their families as grown adults by whatever livelihoods they have scraped together. They will have to sleep in the bed they made. I have relatives who live in poverty (not many). I feel nothing but contempt for those who rejected numerous opportunities when they were growing up, partied all the time, created children and failed to provide a home for them, and have the nerve to ask me for $20. I don’t give money to street people, ever.

    Back to Diamond, if she has any talent now is the time to take higher education. It won’t ever get any cheaper for her. If her parents want her to go and support her she should do as they ask and go.I agree that being a teacher at OUSD is a dead end street. There’s more to life than that. You can make a better living as a jail guard.

  • Chamelyn

    Excellent article! You are a beacon of the OUSD educational system! I plan to forward this article to many parents at Montera Middle School, where my daughter attends. You have the rest of your life to perfect your dream. Enjoy the journey! You make us all proud- your daddy’s coworker and friend!

  • Auntie Lori

    I think that nextset missed some of Diamond’s point. She clearly stated that she “wanted to attend university…later have a career in fashion, and more specifically own [her] own boutique.” Having known Diamond and her parents since she was a baby, I cant see how her comments could be construed as a desire to reject educational opportunties, party and live in poverty. Rather, I read them as a honest attempt to discern why one has to commit to a traditional career path as a High School junior.

    As an Instructor at a respected research University, I speak from first hand experience when I say that many undergraduates feel pressure to excel because of the intense competition and a guilty sense of indebtedness, given the considerable expense that their parents have incurred to send them to university. While some undergrads do set off for college with a very clear sense of what they want to do, it is also perfectly normal to start out more than a little unsure of the final destination, or even change one’s mind. A well rounded undergraduate education provides a conscientious student with numerous opportunties to build upon his or her academic strengths, discover and develop interests in new fields of study, and work to succeed in what can be an intense learning environment. College can be very rewarding and exciting, and the skills that are developed in one’s undergraduate years are certainly transferrable to other social situations.

    Diamond has always been a committed go-getter, and with the continued support of her family she will no-doubt work through her concerns to find the university, courses, major, programs and other on-campus resources to foster her continued growth and development.

    As a Ph.D. candidate who did not sail straight through and start graduate school at age 22, I can also personally and professionally attest to the value of real-world experience before one decides to choose to go to graduate or professional school. My parents could not pay for graduate school, so their financial support was not a motivational factor for me to hurry up and commit to grad school. Depending upon the field of study, some programs require a level of professional experience, and many others are enhanced by it. As a young undergraduate, I had not even remotely considered the possibility of becoming a University professor, but after a number of years working in university administration, I was encouraged by thoughtful colleagues (and the tuition remission policy) to consider the shift. This might not have happened if I were not in that environment.

    Anyway, kudos for a very well articulated and thoughtful blog Diamond! I have no doubt that you will excel in whatever you commit to.

  • Melanie

    Hey Ms. Diamond. This is your Aunt Mel, your mom’s friend, writing from down here in Southern Cali. Great article, and I speak as a journalist. Keep doing big things!

  • Shontae Redmond

    Diamond, your article was wonderful! I plan to share it with my daughter, who will be a freshman in the coming fall.I hope that your comments will challenge her to think more about her future and what will truly make her “smile”, so that she does not follow a path that I may have led her to, but one that her heart guides her toward.

    Thank you for this, you are awesome!

  • Saam

    What a great healthy mind! It is wonderful that you have such ability for reflection “now” at this tender age! You will go beyond the stars with this GREAT head on your shoulders! Try it all Diamond, take every class, leave no stone unturned, before you decide the right path for yourself! You will have a fulfilling life! This…coming from your other Aunt Saam, the Model/Designer w/ the big degree!

  • Nextset

    Auntie Lorrie: My comments did try to explain why one should commit to a traditional path as a HS Junior. I’ll attempt to restate it, the traditional path of doing university entrance requirements in high school, starting a 4 year college right after HS, getting the 4 year degree in 4 years and following that up right away with grad school appears to offer the best opportunities and results from my experience with people who lived well and with people who have not. Not everybody can do this for a variety of reasons and there are alternate paths. I believe that if you have what it takes, you are far safer with the traditional path rather than taking your time and smelling the roses. I have met plenty of people who thought they had more time to get education done and time slipped away from them.

    Diamond is her own person and who knows what her pros and cons are – we are speaking of high schoolers in general. Most of them in the urban areas won’t even graduate high school anyway.

    A real point is allowing the parents to set the tone – if they feel a student is able to handle the rigor of the traditional path the student should rely on the parent’s judgment and go for it. That is the path that offers the greatest opportunity if you are able, not Jr College and transfer, and other alternatives. My parents didn’t ask my opinion when they enrolled me in Chemistry, Physics and Biology, and summer school every year of HS. They didn’t care what I thought and good for them. I ended up a lawyer instead of a physician anyway but I’m glad I had those classes. It made all the other classes more managable (like Civil Pro). I wouldn’t have understood that at 16 or 17, and it was made clear to me that I was there to do as told not to express a lot of opinions. If I’d called the shots then I may not have what I have in life now.

    The more I think of this the more I think of relatives and friends who went to 4 year colleges as 18 year olds – and it was the college that got them their first jobs in industry, that arranged the student financing, and that placed them into nationally ranked grad schools (literally called them in and told them “you’re going to X how about it?”). Some of these were Historically Black Colleges, some were Ca State Univ Colleges, some were Catholic Colleges. Whatever.

    An 18 year old doesn’t really know what is out there for them. Deferring the traditional path can cost an awful lot. If you have something better to do that is as powerful, fine.

  • Isabel Rodriguez-Vega

    In response to nextset,

    As a junior in high school and fellow classmate of Diamond’s, I would like to voice my opinions about your comments.

    You made a good point about the importance of education. Yes, it is extremely important to be educated and go to college, get a good job, etc. But the fact of the matter is that the “traditional path” you speak of is not the best path for everybody. It seems to have worked out for you and some people you know, which is great, but I believe it is important for people to follow the path that best suits them. Graduate school directly after college was the best path for you it seems, but maybe some of the rest of us would like to get something more out of life before committing to a serious career.

    I also see the point you made about waiting too long and then never getting around to pursuing a higher degree. This does happen to some people, but if you are a motivated person it is always possible to pick up your education later in life. If you dont do it, that is your decision and perhaps the right path for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up on the streets.

    I would also like to address the point you made about trusting the parents’ judgment about their children’s futures. I believe it is important for parents to support and encourage their children, but not make decisions for them. Personally, if my mother had never taken my feelings about my education into consideration, I don’t think I would have the love of education that I experience today. If we teach children to “do as their told and not express a lot of opinions” where will we be in the future? Where would we be today if this approach was drilled into the minds of past generations? We would not have equal rights for blacks or women, that’s for sure. We would not have been able to end the Vietnam War or perhaps never experienced the Civil Rights Movement. I certainly know I would not be writing for this blog or be the successful teenager I am today if I was simply taught to do as I was told.

    I know you think teenagers are not capable of making their own decisions, or are maybe naive about the possibilities of the world, but we do have some idea of what we want in this life. That idea will be different for everyone, but our thoughts and opinions (about our futures or in general) are worth listening to, and they deserve to be. We are not some mindless class of children who need to be told what to do.

  • Nextset

    Isabel: I might have agreed on some of your points a long time ago. Funny what age does to you. Reality bites.

    First, adolescents are singularly unreliable when it comes to judgment and perspective. Listening to them gets people killed at the extreme edge. Your opinion is only as good as your training and experience and you are just too young to have either. I’m not expressing an opinion on you & your cohorts meaning well, it’s just that you are in no position to accurately predict the future (trends, not exact occurrance) compared to my generation at our age. You will be able to do this, after you are older, more experienced, better trained and educated.

    The point of education is to teach you research skills. It’s not rote memorization.

    As you may have noticed I’m in the business of working stats and predicting/obtaining outcomes. My background includes 2 years of economic history, business & accounting with a law degree and nearly 30 years of practice. I’m not an oracle but I work with people who are professionals at actuarial predictions. I worked in banking and credit for several years also. One doesn’t need my professional training to follow what I’m saying.

    The entire thrust of your post is that good intentions and willpower can overcome group odds and allow individuals to get what they want doing things their way. To that I remind you that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The civil rights movement is a perfect example.

    As adolescents you need to learn to do as you are told (by responsible superiors) – absolutely. While there is some room for personal style and some selection for taste, there is sudden death waiting for you if you fall off certain paths. Some things are just not negotiable. You will soon reach the time when you are expected to ride the bike without training wheels, legally it’s age 18. We should have left it at 21.

    My comments about taking orders from Mommy & Daddy are predicated on them having a reasonable expectation of knowing what they are talking about. College educated parents are generally capable of selecting classes for a high school child. The child has little perspective to do so. I can look back and see this. Others may have different opinions. You do as you will.

    Lastly we are speaking of generalities. There may be some adolescents who are better at selecting among choices and committments for their future – but the general rule is hell no. I don’t make the odds, I just report them.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at a child’s options and make selections with an eye towards maximizing training for research skills, literacy, and qualifying the student for the greatest possible range of occupations. It takes an adult, though. Even smart children do not always react well when they are told they are going to take 3 years of lab sciences, foreign language, math, history, etc (ie the UC entrance requirements) and they will attend summer school as needed to get it all done by midway through 12th grade. You can always join the army and not go to college but you will have every pre-requisite done if you want to go. It’s not like your busy social schedule should keep a bright student from nailing down the UC requirements – or there is more pressing businesss to do.

    I’m the first to admit that most people in the OUSD are not qualified by IQ to do such a schedule. If that’s the issue then you do the best plan B you can. But High School is academically intense for most people because for most it’s the last formal general education opportunity. So students should be worked to the limits of their capability.

  • David C. Chen

    Diamond this is an amazing piece!! You are so amazing for this, I agree with every word! It’s amazing how we artists are so virtuous and out looking at times. I think it’s great we can know what we want and what it takes to get there. As someone with similar dreams, I think it is super important to know what you want in life, but I do agree that you can have all the time in the world as long as you find it.

    My sister’s friend, a graphic designer, went to everything from pre-school to grad school….does she make good money? She makes enough. She said it would take her forever to pay back loans…but is she happy? Yes! I would do the same.

    I think that is the most important thing in life, to do what you love. Whatever you feel passionate about and not worry about others. I have to say, you would definitely die early if you don’t follow your passion.

    I must say that I disagree with Nextset’. I once wanted to be an anesthesiologist when I was younger to follow my sister’s steps of becoming a nurse. After years I found myself more and truly know what I want now. And no, being 18 has nothing to do with your wants or your goals towards success. I know I am more mature and a better person than most adults, so why is age a question? As for finding a mate along the college path, I can easily find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with, does that really matter? As for young people not having experience or “training” I also disagree. I’m 17 and I have a good amount of experience, I often take care of children at an art camp and volunteer at leadership groups. And I can accomplish and do anything anyone throws at me if I wanted to because of my experience and passion. You see experience can come from anywhere. As they say “teens are just adults with more energy.” Why do you think we are planning our future in high school if we cannot depend on ourselves to choose? The point is just to be happy. I mean would you truly want to be a lawyer for the rest of your life? (just asking) If you cannot say “I wouldn’t mind doing —— till the day I die” then you are making a big mistake about the real success, happiness. Personally I can say that, I want to make art till the day I die.

    So do you think those who follow paths that aren’t meant for them, but for big bucks, know themselves better, are happier, more successful? Or those who follow their dreams for the greater success of being happy?

    After all someone has to do it. Sometimes you have to listen to your soul and not your brain because through everything, what really counts is… are you happy?

    …lastly OUSD is awesome, we have all the IQ we were given by ADULTS (who definitely screwed us over), Teens are awesome, Dreams are awesome, and age is nothing but a number…just saying.

    : )

    – Smile for today, live for tomorrow
    – Classmate and Friend Forever

  • http://myspace.com/supersickwitit Bryce


  • Nextset

    Who is teaching these kids? This kind of thinking is exactly what will make them roadkill on the freeway of life at age 18.

    Children, teenagers (worst kind of children) who think they are fully grown… it sounds like “Lord Of The Flies”. One of the many things a teen should have from HS is an appreciation of deferred gratification, research skills and a sense of History. Young adults will always be at the crest of new breakthroughs, such as the Silicon Valley crowd in the ’70s and ’80s – but the undergrad and grad students I knew who went/fell into that, knew they were working breakthrough technology and knew the basics of what happened to Edison & Bell.

    “Listen to your soul and not your brain?” Is that what is being taught at OUSD high school? Life is not working at Motown records.

    Mr. Chen’s comments reflect exactly what I’m afraid of. Exuberence untempered by study. Some find this endearing, I find it in victims.

    Stability and Progress through the adult years is built on calculated risktaking (you have half of that) combined with ability to learn, to research and to judge. Beyond that it’s nice to go into an industry you’ve always liked, but some of the really great occupations may not have been invented yet. You run unreasonable risk of trouble by singing “My Way” at age 17. Students, Jrs and Seniors, need to make themselves ready to “grab the brass ring” when it comes around knowing that you may not be able to predict exactly what and when that is. Rigid thinking about what you want and don’t want may keep you out of a good thing in 12 to 24 months or so down the road.

    Anybody who thinks a 17 year old knows it all (about anything) is probably a 17 year old.

    I am not surprised at this thread – this is the kind of thing I see from this generation all the time. It makes me wonder how they will fare when the good times in the USA come to an end.

  • Che Abram

    I agree with much of Diamond’s point and points of others that have left information on this blog. Education is extremely important for many reason, most of all, so no one can tell you “No” for not meeting the minimum requirements. I have been in college admissions for the past 8 years and have seen student stress over what career path to choose. A joyful career is very important, yet it is wise to remember that what makes you happy now, may change in the future. A college teaches you how to handle life and, more importantly, that you always have choices and how to investigate those choices. Those choices are the knowledge worth fighting for.