Writing The Next Chapter

Writing The Next Chapter
by Francis Dela Cruz

Our future is waiting to be written. As part of the first class of Student U, I, along with my peers, have seen the evolution of Student U. I’ve seen the weekly tutoring opportunities turn into daily afterschool enrichment with Academic Power Hour and clubs at what is now Student U’s new permanent home, our home: the W.G. Pearson Center. I’ve witnessed many of Mr. Kimberg’s and Ms. Z’s speeches and heard as the language has shifted from what we hope to accomplish to what we have accomplished.  I’ve seen students become teachers. And, I have seen four Student U classes graduate from high school. Our past has been written, and it is filled with joy, excellence and hope. Now, it is time to pick up our pens again.

Because for the next 10 years, this Student U Community of ours will continue to grow and create the traditional and nontraditional leaders of tomorrow. In the next 5 years, we will have about 200 college graduates. In the next 10 years, we’ll have double that. We have families and partners at every corner of Durham. We will have leaders all over Durham with all the wisdom and skills they’ve learned from their experience at Student U.

Through my time with Student U, I have learned one important philosophy about leadership. Leadership takes a variety of forms. From running companies, to running for office. From taking care of your siblings while earning a college degree to giving up your spot so somebody else can join the game. You have the power to shape what your leadership will become.

Imagine what will happen when all of us take the initiative to invest in our own communities wherever we are. I see each and every one of us carrying the 6 values to places that have never heard of such things. Look to the person next to you. I’m going to remind you of our 6 values. Discover your best self. Respect yourselves and others. Share your brilliance. Dream fearlessly. Achieve greatness. And Energize your community. Whoever you’re looking at, they’re probably living some of these values, or maybe it’s their first time hearing them. Either way, that person is capable of living any of these values. And if you ever find yourself alone, with no one beside you to bring the Student U model along. Go and stand in front of a mirror and there, you’ll find a person that’s capable and courageous enough to share the brilliance of our community.

I have a dream that some of us will bring this Student U model of a collaborative and believing community to places that need a little change. The past decade readied us for this.

At the end of these next 10 years, I see someone else standing where I am right now, reflecting on the past 10 years. That person will talk of Student U students standing up for what they believe is right. Of students who followed their passion in the arts, sciences, and music. Of students who made living in Durham more accessible. Of a Durham, where brilliance is shared, where greatness is possible, where dreaming fearlessly is not shut down, where the community energizes other communities, and where its people discover their best selves even when all the odds are against them.

Pick up your pens, the next ten years start now.


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