What's your plan?

I am busy.

I am busy. That’s my attitude most of the time. I am just too busy to solve the world’s problems. I am in the stage of life where balance between life, family, and work is key. I literally have no time. Besides, I am just me, one person, what can I do. I am sure you find yourself with the same sentiment at times.

Then, I sat through what I like to call “the indoctrination of Doug Curry.” Have you met him? Have you ever heard him talk about young people? He inspires you to put aside your own expectations or judgments. He talks about chance encounters and how to influence our young citizens. He has a plan to ensure all students are pestered until they create a plan for life after high school. So, now, wherever I go, I ask young adults, “What’s your plan?”

Doug and Dr. Dana West started this movement, and now I cannot stop asking the question. One day, an unsuspecting sacker at United, whom I will call Will, was just minding his own business. I asked him where he went to school, he said, “Tascosa, I’m a Rebel.” He said that in a way that let me know it wasn’t just his mascot, but perhaps a way of life.

Then I released the hounds, “What’s your plan after high school, Will?”

He stuttered and spurted and finally let it out: “I’m an artist, I don’t think school is for me.”

“Really? I have a ton of friends who are artists, and they all went to school,” I replied.

“Yeah, I don’t like people telling me what to do when it comes to art,” Will said back.

It was clear that I was dealing with the typical thoughts of teenagers, who today have a lot of pressure on them. “You know graphic artists are very talented, and they do really important work. The process of school will not make you lose your artistic expression, but more like unearth all the talent that’s within you. Amarillo College and WT both have great programs for artists,” I explained.

“I have never looked at it like that. My parents are insisting I go to school, but I just want to hang out with my friends,” he responded as he loaded the last of my groceries.

“You should look into the programs and even go talk to the art professors. If you need help here is my card. Call me and I will get you in touch with the right person at either school,” I said as we parted.

I didn’t even think about our meeting again until a few weeks later when I needed a gallon of milk. As I walked back into United, Will spotted me right away.

“Mr. Carter…

(I hate that by the way)

…Thanks for showing me where to go, I talked to my counselor at school, and she thought graphic design would be great for me,” he said with a grin from ear to ear.

“That’s awesome, then you can still paint and express yourself through other mediums while you’re learning,” I responded.

Every time I go to United and Will is there, we talk. He’s finishing up this semester and will graduate next year.

 

That’s it. That’s all you have to do. There are great resources in our community that can guide them through the pipeline. We just ask the question and invest time, we have enough time, even as balanced busy people. I have time to ask students what their plan is while they are taking my groceries out. I have time to talk to the young people as I am getting my food from a waiter. I have time when I see an opportunity to encourage others with not so chance encounters.

You can do this. You must do this. You must find the Wills in your life.

We are working to create a culture in Amarillo where everyone can achieve his or her goals of education beyond high school and everyone plays a part in making that happen. Students hear the same message in school, in their work, and you’re reinforcing it by asking as you ask them in your everyday life.

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