As we reflect on the power of freedom this 4th of July, I look back on my high school career at KIPP Houston High School and forward to my freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, an education I was able to attain on a full scholarship. The education I have received has provided me with the option to study the career that I would like to pursue, architectural engineering, a six-year dual degree.
At KIPP, the most important lesson I learned was to never stop learning. My teammates and I have a variety of choices because of this tenet. Regardless of where we are starting our adult lives, whether it is at an elite university or a local community college, we still have so much more to do and learn in our lives. There are so many amazing experiences waiting for us but it is up to each of us to seek them out, even if we have to take risks. It may be comfortable to just keep to what one knows but it can be more enriching to go out and take chances, even if you have to fall first.
One of the biggest sacrifices that I have had to make is giving up a lot of my time with different activities. Whether it is fine arts, extracurricular activities, or other organizations with which I was involved, they all required a vast amount of time. However, this sacrifice was always worth it. This investment helped me develop aspects of my character and learn crafts such as playing instruments or dancing, helping me see what I love to do and what I need in my life to truly feel free.
And it is with this knowledge, that to be free a price must be paid, that the Class of 2015 walks a little taller this summer and 4th of July—because we know that it is because of our own choices and hard work that we have freedom for more choices.
Omar was KIPP Houston High School's Class of 2015 valedictorian and will be attending the University of Texas in Austin in the fall. Omar's sister wrote a recent blog on her freshman year and his mother wrote an OpEd in the Houston Chronicle about fair funding for public charter schools.