"To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education," Thomas Jefferson once wisely said. Coming from where I'm from I have certainly learned a thing or two about the darkness of which Jefferson spoke. The place in which I grew up was shrouded in this darkness. The streets of my neighborhood, not unlike those in any other ghetto across America, were home to the usual cast of characters: pimps, pushers, drug addicts, prostitutes and hustlers. For three generations my family stayed stuck there in the darkness haunted by abject poverty and unrelenting despair. In fact, it was there in this darkness that my mother and father were consumed. Both of their lives claimed in unrelated homicides. For many years it was as if any attempts to escape the circumstances of our condition, to break the generational curse as it were, would be futile. That is, until Ruth was born. And it would be the very education, which Jefferson spoke of, that would illuminate her path to becoming the first woman in our family to graduate from college and the first to find her way out of the darkness.
My daughter Ruth, or Rudy as she is affectionately referred to, is proficient in four languages. She is a National Merit Honor Society inductee. Throughout her tenure at Loyola University she remained on the dean's, where she was also a member of the Phi Eta Sigma freshman honor society. These are all accolades that would make any mother proud. But without having been given the opportunity to receive a solid foundational education things could have turned out much differently.