By Ekong Ekong, Richardson High School Alumnus (2008)
My name is Ekong Ekong, and my journey in AVID was one of the inspirations for the video “People Like Me.” From the time I started school through 7th grade, I wasn’t worried at all about classroom assignments, homework, or projects. As a matter of fact, I was convinced those things would be absorbed into my brain without me giving much effort (How? I don’t know). My focus was geared toward my reputation and maintaining status. In other words, school took the backseat while my social life rode shotgun (which was apparent in my grades). I wasn’t terribly bad, but definitely nothing a mother could be totally proud of. Even my teachers (who I assumed knew very little about me) saw that my effort did not match my potential. So, my football coach, along with my other teachers, recommended me for AVID without my knowledge. I was not too ecstatic about it, but the moment my mom caught a glimpse of what AVID was about, it did not matter…I was in!
When I first got into AVID in 8th grade, some of the students in my class were people who I knew and others were students I would have probably never spoken to. Throughout the first months, I wasn’t “wowed” with the program, nor did a miracle take place. In fact, I was pretty annoyed with it altogether, and so were my classmates. Little did I know, this group of students who felt the same way I did at the time, would become our high school’s first AVID graduating class, and my AVID family for the next five years and beyond.
The funny thing is how quickly we grew closer as a bunch and became our own support group even outside the classroom. Another mystery that was taking shape was that my old habits and perceptions were changing without my realizing it. I went from taking one pre-AP/AP class to taking two and then three, just because I wanted to be in the same classes as the rest of my AVID family. I was in Honors classes that I would have NEVER taken thanks to my classmates. Slowly but surely, my determination became greater than my fear. By my junior and senior years, I was enrolled in dual credit college courses, while still being President of the largest Interact Community Service Club in the nation at the time, a member of the district’s Superintendent's Advisory Board, a key athlete for both our football and track teams, and a part-time server at Bennigan’s. Even with all that, my AVID classroom still remained the only place that I could always be myself and not worry about things going on in school, my reputation or my status.
The drive that filled our classroom became an intrinsic part of all of us and the things that used to challenge me became second nature, not because I knew everything, but because I could FIND OUT the things I didn’t know. Sitting back and watching life pass me by just was not an option anymore. I can sum up my journey in AVID in one word… CONFIDENCE! It was that same confidence that led me to graduate from the University of Texas-Arlington in three and a half year with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance, as well as start my career right out of college as an Operation Program Analyst for JP Morgan. It’s funny how life works; because, back then, I used to watch videos of AVID students talking about how their lives had changed and think that they sounded cliché. But now, I know they’re true… because I’m living it!