The Way I See It...
Robin Rogers, Ed.D.
When I graduated from high school, my parents wanted me to go to college and earn a four-year degree. They did not care what kind of degree, but they wanted me to be able to support myself in the event I ever got a divorce. Yes, that’s how my father put it. “Get a degree, so you never have to depend on anyone else to support you if a man doesn’t work out.” Whether he had a premonition of impending marital discord or he thought a man might never take me on at all, who knows? But that thought in the back of my head couldn’t have helped me.
Lesson #1: Always tell your kids that waiting for the right person to marry is best, and impress upon them the vows before God that each person takes are lifetime commitments. Don’t provide them with an out before they even get started.
I’m not blaming my bad choices (divorce) on my father, because he was only trying to look out for me, but as a divorcée, I wish I had not been so quick to dissolve marriages because I could support myself.
Lesson #2: For me, “get any degree” equaled a Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies - a generic four-year degree. “Any degree” couldn’t pay the bills in 1990, and it sure wouldn’t in 2019. College going people need to choose degree plans that will lead to work opportunities that will lead to living salaries. Not all degrees are equal.
Lesson #3: Choose your major wisely. For real. I hate it when people say, “A bachelor’s degree doesn’t equate to a job anymore.” That’s horse manure. If you get a degree in education with a teaching certification, you can get a job. If you get a nursing degree (BSN, RN, or LVN), you can get a job. If you get an accounting degree and pass the CPA exam, you are going to get a job. But if you just go to college, do some random coursework, and take classes in power walking, Chinese poetry, and ceramics, and then end up with an interdisciplinary skills degree (like moi), you may be hard pressed to find work. That’s why preparing kids is huge.
Now that my third child, Briley, excuse me - cough, cough - I mean my man child, Briley, is starting college, I feel pretty good about the preparation that we have given him, and the counseling on work-life balance and career choices. Unlike 30 years ago, when I started at Texarkana College, my son is going off to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. There are 83 degree plans that he can choose from, and 11,000 students that he will be intermingling with regularly. Sixty countries are represented at UCA, too. And, while his high school sweetheart is also going to UCA, nobody has been talking to either of them about marriage. They are equally focused on building their own individual futures. For Briley, going to college was assumed, just as it was assumed of his sisters.
Before he chose his college route, we drove around for an entire afternoon and talked. I asked him about the men and women that he looked up to in Texarkana. Who did he respect and why? I asked him to think about the jobs they had. I asked him to think about the hours these people worked and the rewards and hardships that came with each job.
If you have never ridden the shuffle a half a dozen times in a day with a teenager with the radio off, you are missing out. Get in the car, ask the questions, then be quiet and listen; they will tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Those car rides — they are priceless. And, on the day of our “What do you want to do with your life?” ride, he talked until he had a plan that he felt good about. Thankfully, it was more than just “get a degree.” His plan, however, did include him moving away, which just about broke my heart.
I’m just about ready to let him go. I’ve delivered way too many speeches this summer. He is probably not going to come home until Christmas just to enjoy the peace from my lectures. I think I’ve been trying to make sure I tell him every last-minute story about how I wish I had done certain things differently.
When I was coming up, little girls got dolls, and played classroom teacher, or were nurses, or secretaries. Boys built houses with Lincoln logs, or raced cars, or played doctor with doctor’s kits. Gender stereotypes were real, and boys and girls had different career possibilities. I graduated with 160 people in 1988 from Pleasant Grove, and 31 years later, there are no female physicians or dentists from our graduating class. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? That’s changing, though. Thank goodness!
In spite of different gender roles, I grew up watching and reading about strong women being the firsts in their field. I was 11 when President Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, the first woman ever to be awarded and confirmed to that court. I was 13 when Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut to blast off into space. At 23, I watched as Maya Angelou recited “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Clinton’s inauguration as poet laureate. And, at 26, I watched as the first female Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, was appointed by President Clinton.
Sometimes I like to imagine I had not just gotten that first blah bachelor’s degree. If I could start again, what would I chose? Depending on the day, I would go into landscaping and landscape design OR I would be a lawyer. And not just any kind of lawyer. I would want to be an awesome attorney like Kelley Crisp, Lauren Richards, Connie Mitchell, Kristian Robertson and Stephanie Potter-Barrett. They are fierce, smart, dynamic, and fun to watch as they skillfully put really, really bad people in jail for crimes committed in Bowie and Miller Counties. Kelley and Lauren are the “Dream Team” Assistant District Attorneys from Bowie County, while Stephanie is the Prosecuting Attorney and Connie and Kristian are the Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys for Miller County.
This month, we got Kelley and Lauren to sit down and talk about how they make sure justice is served in Texas. Not only are these women masters at their jobs, they are also wives, mothers, best friends, and role models to young girls throughout the area. For all the girls who thought female prosecuting attorneys were only on “Law and Order,” I’m proud to share this cover story on Bowie County’s Dynamic Duo. When your work is something you love and feel passion for, you know you are in the right spot. I hope my son finds his love and passion over the next years! Happy July, and as always, thanks for reading FSLM.