Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box (on Education)

I spent a lot of time training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu back in the day at a place that turned out more UFC MMA fighters than any other camp in history. About 10 years ago, I met a young man, really a teenager, and he was finishing his last year in college. I thought this was odd... he couldn't have been older than 18. One of his parents was Brazilian and the other was American. He was bright, articulate, and personable. At the time he was fighting amateur MMA and would go on to fight professionally (he's in the grey and red shorts fighting UFC's Rick Lamas back in 2008)... but he was making too much money in his real career to continue fighting.

He had dropped out of High School, and before he was permitted to take his GED, he had already finished community college. He then went on to complete his undergrad program at the local State U. - graduating college a year before he was scheduled to graduate high school. He worked for a year while applying to Law School, and despite graduating from nobody U an excellent Law School accepted him into their program at the age of 19. He graduated Law School on time and passed the Bar exam at the ripe old age of 22.

Got that? Before his high school classmates were done with their Frat House boozing this guy was a Member of the Bar (with a 6 figure salary). But my friend had the advantage of necessity...  He came from challenging circumstances and had spent enough time in Brazil scratching for enough to eat to be properly motivated... and it must run in the family, because his little brother took the exact same path.

He is in his late 20's now and hitting the cover off the ball in all areas of his life. He took on ZERO debt working at anything to get through his undergrad programs, and some to get through Law School... but given his young age and the subsequent length of this Legal career I think a wise investment.

The system fought him every step of the way in his young life but there was no holding this Force of Nature back.

If you know a young, bright, and ambitious person I think this is a story worth sharing.


tweell said...

My father died recently. I know he had a hard childhood (as many Greatest gen had), living in North Dakota they didn't have enough for mittens. Grandma would give him a baked potato out of the oven in the morning to warm his hands on the way to school. That was also his lunch. After 8th grade he left school and worked on a farm to help his family.

He loved being in the military in WWII. Finally enough to eat! Easy living! He got his GED there and picked up a bachelor's degree in two years while starting a family. His legs were badly damaged in Korea, but he never took a dime from the VA, saying he still had his mind and didn't need a handout.

Dad loved teaching, especially teaching middle school science, and never stopped learning. He did other things: maintenance, running a business, poetry, but teaching science is what he always came back to. He did snag those higher degrees, but that wasn't his focus at the time. Dad was usually in trouble with administrators, though, he wouldn't toe the line and called BS BS.

Encouraging ambition was part of our culture at one time. Now ambition is treated like a sin.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Funny you mention "Finally had enough to eat" about your Dad's experience... that was the exact same thing my father said... or close enough... my father said that in the service "was the first time in my life I had enough to eat". I have a picture of him that I need to find and post... he was in boot camp and it is clear that he was malnourished.


Greg T. Jeffers said...

Few people in 50+ years on this planet have impressed me as much as this young man. I tell his story early and often.