What is the goal for tomorrow?

By Christian Betancourt , Student and Teaching Assistant at Grays Harbor College

Christian presented to guests, incarcerated individuals, and corrections staff. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

Christian Betancourt was one of the first speakers during the day-long Pathway to Reentry event at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (learn more about the event here). He graciously shared his speech for publication on the SPP website.

Like most, it took me quite a while to finally attain my GED. From the day I started taking my pre-test to the day I finished my final test, I was a nervous wreck…It had been so many years since the last time I had done only academic studies that I was unsure if I could actually attain my GED…Thankfully, I had a patient and understanding teacher…

What also motivated me to succeed were my children. I didn’t want them to come to a crossroad in life where school seemed too hard and they want to drop out like I did…How could I convince my kids the importance of education if I, being their father, could not do the same?…I wanted to show them that no matter the adversity, all things are possible…To show them their futures are worth investing time into…

Derrick Bason gives his full attention to a speaker. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

I remember a conversation with my two youngest, that I was taking a couple of classes to better myself…Do you know what they said? They said, “Dad you’re old; why are you going to school?” I explained to them that even though you grow up in life, your mind doesn’t have to become stagnant…Education continues on in life…That there is knowledge and educational value in all facets of life…

Students take notes during the event. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

There is something I ask my kids at night prior to bed…I ask them, “So, what’s the goal for tomorrow?”…They will both say, “to learn something, Dad.” You see, I want school to be exciting for them…I want them to remember to be receptive and to learn even just one thing, because you never know when said information will become useful.

Eddie “Truck” Gordon once said, “If your actions are not in line with your beliefs…then stop lying to yourself.” How could I tell my kids about the importance of continuing education if I neglected my own educational responsibilities…

I need to leap over my hurdles

I started the BT One class…we covered a lot of information I believed to be useless…I didn’t take the class seriously…I thought, “What’s the point of all this book work?”

Slowly but surely the class stared to peak my interest…It covered all types of important information…The type you knew, for one, needed to be written down or else you might forget what you just learned…For two, you knew that even if you didn’t do what you learned for a profession, you could utilize what you learned on your own home…

An attendee looks at a map of the Evergreen State College campus; many talked about coming to the college post-release. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

You would be surprised how quickly class went by for me…However, I was ready to do other things…still not taking my situation seriously…I tried all that I could to not take any more classes. Regardless of my non-acceptance of this class, I was none-the-less enrolled… I made up my mind to do the bare minimum

Christian talks with Kingsa McKnight. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

When I started the BT 2 Class, I met my instructor, Mr. Kelly Richters…He had a very different way to instruct his students…He allowed us to be creative when it came to our capstone project and our modules…He promoted individual creativity and then for us to come together for a collaborative project…Mr. Richters asked me if I wanted a job as a TA…I stand here in front of you today having been roughly two years major infraction free…I have been TA’ing for close to a year now…I still learn new things each and every day…I won’t say it’s been easy…I’ve never been a people person…I truly don’t like giving big speeches…But, to head where I want in life, I need to leap over my hurdles. Change is scary, but truly worth it, if we apply our whole heart and soul into our tasks.

No one is meant to know everything, but if you continue to focus on learning all that you can, you’ll be able to maneuver around this life with relative eases…There will still be up’s and down’s, yet if we are better equipped for these days, we can break the cycle of recidivism…

We want to have the right tools to push our little ones, our younger relatives in the correct direction…that way they can succeed and have a fighting chance in this world…Aside from ourselves, they are the ones we should be doing this for…helping the next generation be great.

So, I say again to those gathered here today: “What is the goal for tomorrow?”

Attendee Curtis Johnson speaks with other attendees. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

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