Friday, October 13, 2017

Make your mark!

A few years ago a happy accident helped me to start seeing things in a better perspective. 

It was a standard form doctorate recommendation letter, one that a graduate student asked me to fill in and write in for him. The form asked "what is the comparison sample you are basing this recommendation on?" so I had to sit down and estimate how many students I ever helped find their own path to achieving their fullest potential. Back then the calculation was at about 3500 students. I wrote the letter and sent it in. The student got the thing he needed the letter for. As it usually happens. It turns out that rarely did a non-deserving student ever asked me for a recommendation. It seems thus that all of my recommendation letters are very useful. Students get doctoral or masters degree acceptances, officer promotions, their dream jobs... you name it and they get it. They are deserving and I write good letters. 

But my issue started later on. It was with myself. It was with my effectiveness as a human being. I had studied for some 28 years (1984-2012) and I had worked for some 18 years (1989-1995 and 2000-2012) to be where I was and all I could account for was having helped only 3500 students find their fullest potential? 

That was OK-ish but by far it was not good enough. Something had to change. Radically. I had to do something. I didn't really know what the something was going to be. When we don't know what to do, it turns out that old dreams fill in our subconscious planning. If we just let them. So I followed a long time dream of mine from my teenage years. Yet unfulfilled. I went to law school. I finished law school. 

When in law school I learned once again that the legal clinic I worked in could not serve about 90% of the folks who were calling in and who needed our help. While I enjoy litigation and I find it very important, I want to make legal services more affordable, more comprehensive in scope and less necessary by way of parties agreeing with each other out of court more often. 

I've been teaching high school completion to adults lately. I apologize that it took me so long to recognize the issues here. Yet, all too many of us don't recognize the issues at all still. I learned that we have 60+ million people in the US who don't have a high school diploma or equivalent. Who knows how large that number is globally? That we as society, in the richest country in the world, help only less than 8% of these friends and brothers and sisters of ours (who hide in the cupboard out of sad self-shame) get closer to their fullest potential. 

How can we make our imprint larger? How can we help more people? How can we make our help count more faster?

Adrian S. Petrescu, Ph.D., J.D.

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