The holiday season, Thanksgiving through New Year’s, tends to bring many different emotions and feelings. Regardless of your faith, the holidays instill a sense of gratitude, pleasure and concern for others.
What a wonderful time to reflect on the bounty that has come into our lives either through the graciousness of others or by sheer hard work and talent – or both. Often, the position we experience in life has not come in isolation of our own effort but through the goodness of others.
The gift of education fits seamlessly in this notion of collaboration. In and of itself, education is one of the greatest catalysts for success in life. It comes, though, by the benevolence of others and by the determination of the participants and is undoubtedly one of the greatest gifts one can give or receive.
Education, after all, is built on the sacrifices of countless generations before and will exist into the future because of its relevance in life. Think about it. Education has an impact on almost every facet of the recipient’s life and the loves of his or her descendants’ lives. The gift of education reaches into the future and pays rewards far beyond those that are realized at the moment.
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Education does not come without a price. We all know of challenges many have overcome to either be a part of or participate in educational experiences. At a recent lecture, I heard the president of Harper College discuss the efforts of the college’s namesake, William Rainey Harper.
Harper was a pioneer of the community college movement, which began in the early 20th century amid great obstacles that prevailed through the mid-1900s. JCC began with similar travails and challenges put before its leaders. Facing a new agenda for education, lack of funding and no facilities, our own leader, John Tart, pressed forward to make a difference in the lives of others and further establish a culture of hope. Instructors were paid half as much as in the private sector, but because of commitment to the cause of education, they persisted in the service of others. And students, coming from all walks of life for a chance to experience the American Dream, enrolled, and continue to enroll because of the gift of others.
As this holiday season continues to unfold and the stress of what gifts you might give to others heightens, consider the gift of education. That might come by your contribution to JCC for scholarship support of students, or it might come through your pledge to enroll for an education that will give wealth untold to you, your family, your future generations and the community you serve.
Whatever the method of giving, it will come by making an effort. Leonardo DaVinci once said, “O Lord, you give us everything, at the price of an effort.” My desire for you this holiday season is that you make an effort toward peace, joy and hope. And remember, education can be a part of that effort.
David N. Johnson is president is Johnston Community College.