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The Way I See It...

Publisher's Letter 

Robin Rogers, Ed.D.

Who we all are has everything to do with where we were born, to whom we were born, and when we came into this world. The circumstances of my life are pretty great because of parents who valued family and education, and a hometown of love in good ol’ Texarkana, USA!

It was 1970 when I was born in Wadley Hospital, the first child to a young 20-something couple. My father was an engineer who had already earned his master’s degree, and my mom was a homemaker. My father taught other engineers at Red River Army Depot, while my mom spent all of her time with me. We lived in a small, frame house in town with wonderful neighbors. My mom told me recently that she had a carrier on the back of her bicycle and a basket on the front, and many days, she would pedal us to Spring Lake Park, where I would swing, slide, and feed the ducks; then Mom and I would have a picnic. She remembers those days fondly, and I know how fortunate I am to have a mother who was able to choose to be a homemaker. She sewed my clothes, and in her spare time, she was a candy striper (volunteer) at Wadley on weekends, when my father was home to watch after me. We rarely ate out because my mother cooked. My family was neither rich nor poor. But if you could measure wealth by how much love we had in immediate and extended family, I think we might have been the wealthiest folks in Texarkana.

Idyllic is the word that comes to mind when I think of my childhood. Once a year, we went to the beach for family vacation. And, my parents had a red Volkswagen camper bus that we would drive to Shady Lake and camp out of on weekends. There was a garden in our backyard every year that reaped plenty of vegetables to share. My mother and my grandmother shelled peas, canned tomatoes, put up sweet corn, pickled cucumbers, and always made jellies from blackberries that grew along the barbed wire fences beside my grandmother’s house.

When I imagine our FSLM readers, I like to think most had similar upbringings, but I know that is not necessarily true.

In 2018, I meet new people all of the time who are transplants, either by work or marriage.

Texarkana upbringing was not necessarily Mayberry, but it was a really good, safe place to raise a family.

It’s funny. I have friends who left here after high school and returned to raise families because of the great educational opportunities in and around Texarkana, and the low cost of living. I will never ever regret staying in this city I love to raise my own kids.

So, now I have reminisced about my younger years, where I was raised by people who told me that I could be anything I dreamed of being, and they believed what they said – even though I was a girl. (For you younger kids, the books of my youth referred to doctors and CEOs as men; women were moms, nurses, teachers, or secretaries to CEOs.) In our house, if you could dream it, you could figure out how to achieve it.

The magazine’s theme this month is “Proud to be an American.” How many of you have made your own way in life by the sweat of your brow? Or juggled full-time college and a full-time job to better yourself? How many have served our country? Or raised a family while a loved one served overseas? America is a place where dreams can come true. Somewhere down the line, unless you are full-blood Native American, all of our ancestors were immigrants to this beautiful country. They left homes and often families behind to start new lives because they had a dream, and they wanted better lives with the freedoms that America ensures.

Never take for granted being born in the USA. According to the CDC, over 800,000 children die every year of diarrhea because water sources are unsafe and sanitation systems are not in place. Think about that.

Next month, if all goes as planned, my family is welcoming an unconventional exchange student from Rwanda (she’s 30 and will start her MBA at TAMU-T in August). Gabie is a unique leader who started an empowering organization for women in Rwanda to better themselves through education and hard work. These women have endured hardships that most Americans will never relate to (thank God). Gabie is going to get a master’s degree in business, so she can return to her country and implement the American business models and best practices with the women who walk miles to participate and learn each week. I am so excited for her to join our family during her studies.

The Hazin family graces this July cover donning red, white, and blue with pride. They are transplants to Texarkana, from New York, and they love it here. Mom Layla got her American citizenship in April, and that achievement is something extraordinary to celebrate. This is a family that is blooming where they have chosen to be planted, and our community is better because of people like the Hazins. I hope you enjoy their story, as well as all the other great “Proud to be an American” articles we have to share this month! As always, thanks for reading FSLM.