Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Dreams of Sugar Plum Fairies, Football Players, and Bounty Hunters

What would you like to be when you grow up?

I’m sure someone asked you at some point in your childhood, maybe even several people. Sure, the answer probably changed over time (there’s an embarrassing home video somewhere out there in which I clearly state my intent to become a ballerina cowboy), but everyone has dreams. As we get older, our realities and dreams don’t always mesh (anyone who knows me will probably recognize that I do not have the grace of a ballerina, and I’m terrible with a lasso).

Somewhere between middle and high school, students are expected to begin working toward futuristic prospects (colleges, employment, etc.), and with this expectation comes the unspoken understanding that their efforts are either working towards their realized dreams, or something else.

When I grow up, I’d like to work in epidemiology. It's like the cowboy field of medicine.

When I grow up, I’d like to work in epidemiology. It’s like the cowboy field of medicine.

One of the major concerns Kedila tries to address is that for many of our students, that “something else” is not a good option. Many of the students I work with do not have a lot of experience or knowledge of jobs that make much more than minimum wage. These students often lack clear role models (especially male role models), and substitute what they see on tv for possible realistic career options.

Before they left for their holiday break, I gave our students a short survey. I wanted to get an idea of what interests them, and what goals they have for themselves.

Twelve of our boys returned their surveys to me before break. Out of these twelve, one had written in an illegible graffiti script, (pictured below), one wrote that they would like to be a “raper” (I’m about 99% sure he meant rapper), and the other ten all wanted to be professional football players.

This student is either 15 or 85. Sadly, I can’t really get any more information from this survey.

This student is either 15 or 85. Sadly, I can’t really get any more information from this survey.

Eight girls returned their surveys, with much more diverse responses. Two students wanted to be teachers of various subjects, two wished to be fashion designers, and the others a lawyer, veterinarian, and (my personal favorite response) “a gynecologist or bounty hunter”. These responses are heartening, but tempered by another survey. Many of the students wrote in colored pencils (we offered those if they hadn’t brought No.2’s). One of these students crossed out her original response, “Doctor” and instead wrote “School Nurse”. I was surprised and saddened to see an eleven year old censoring her dreams so quickly.

Gynecologist bounty hunters trump ballerina cowboys any day.

Gynecologist bounty hunters trump ballerina cowboys any day.

Next semester, and for the summer program, Kedila is going to be working to bring mentoring and career awareness to our students, in addition to our current tutoring services.

Happy New Year!

Erin Ricketts
Kedila Family Learning Services

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2014 by in Kedila Family Learning Services, VISTA Field Reports.

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