By Nahea Marks, Honokaa High and Intermediate School, Student Speaker, Honolulu Summer Institute 2014
Nahea Marks was a student speaker at this year’s Summer Institute in Honolulu, HI. Below is her speech as prepared. You can also watch Nahea's speech here!
My first day of class my sophomore year, I was pretty excited. My schedule had “Col Prep” listed as one of my classes. I did not know what “Col Prep” was, but I assumed it was a typo for “Cul Prep,” as in Culinary. I’m sure the first thing everyone thinks of when they see the word “culinary” is food. That’s exactly the first thing that came to my mind. You could probably imagine how stoked I was. When I first got into the classroom there was literally nothing about food or cooking. There were college names and entrance requirements pasted all over the room. The board in the front of the room said AVID. I did not know what this word stood for, let alone anything about it.
Coming from parents who weren’t around for me to talk to, I did not know anything about college. I looked at it as a waste of time. I was lazy, way too lazy to bother to change around my schedule, so I figured I’d just stay in the class. A week of AVID changed my whole outlook on college; because of AVID, I was now determined to make something of my future. After my first semester of AVID, I truly felt like I had a second home. Outside of school my life is rough, like everyone else’s. My parents divorced when I was two years old. My little sister and I moved away from our dad. My mom became a single parent, so I had to step in and help her out with my sister. We lived paycheck to paycheck, which meant there were no savings. Sometimes we only had thirty dollars for the week. My mom worked two jobs, and it still didn’t change anything. I had to raise and still am raising my sister.
AVID makes me feel happy, which is a feeling that doesn’t come easy to me. For the little time I am in class, I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to cook, who I have to take care of, how much money we have, or what time my mom is going to come home. For that little amount of class time, I’m a student, a student who wants to go to college, a student who is and can still be a teenager.
My AVID family made the class enjoyable. They were there when I needed that little encouragement, when I felt like giving up, and they were there when I felt alone. AVID wasn’t there for only education, I could come into class and listen to all the different life stories that we each have. I could relate to some and others I couldn’t. This experience gave me a better perspective on people and life.
Mrs. Haitsuka-Fernandez, my AVID teacher, was a different type of teacher. She didn’t nag us because she liked to; she did it because she cared. She is my biggest support system along with my AVID family. The dictionary defines the word “mom” as: “A woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth to.” I think that a mother is someone who brings up a child with deep care and affection, and I can proudly say Mrs. Haitsuka-Fernandez is like a mother to me. Her liveliness and encouragement did not only get me hooked to AVID, but it changed my life for the better. Because of the Socratic Seminars, college research, AVID binders and the other skills I’ve learned in AVID, I am proud of the person I have become.
Because of AVID, I discovered what I want to do in life. My strong life background gave me experience in caring for people. AVID helped me realize that is what I like doing. My dream is to become a neonatal nurse; the type of nurse who cares for ill newborns. I would have never gotten my head straight if it weren’t for AVID. We all come from different backgrounds and different areas. We all have different opinions on things and different perspectives on life; unless you truly experience the benefits of AVID you’re always going to see it as just another program offered. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, but to me, it’s different. To me it stands for hope. Hope for a better day, hope for a better future.