Commentary by Bill Buchanan
It is easy for to become cynical about the future of our youth when you read about low standardized test scores, alarming high school drop-out rates, teen pregnancy rates, and internet abuses such as bullying and “sexting.”
So it did me a world of good when Catherine Lee invited me to Rotary last week for the annual scholarship program. The Rotary Club of Ojai awarded $54,000 in scholarships to 20 outstanding teens. To a person, these young people were bright, hardworking achievers. One young woman was senior class president and made good grades, all while working almost 40 hours a week. A young man, who came to this country from Peru as a child, was faced with the additional challenge of learning English, but went on to excel.
These young people were poised. They gave gracious and often humorous acceptance speeches. They talked about lofty goals. One young woman’s dream was to be on the Olympic rowing team. Another young man talked about majoring in astrophysics, and perhaps one day becoming an astronaut. Others talked about being nurses and helping people. One young woman thanked the club for her scholarship, which she said allowed her to be the first in her family to attend a four-year college.
I found myself reminiscing about myself at their age. I looked at these young people and thought about how much more mature and polished they are than I was at that age Ñ- how much more they accomplished than I had in high school.
I got a very warm feeling. I found myself listening to these impressive young people, and feeling a lot better about the future. I am convinced you will be hearing more from some of the young people in that room. Many, if not all, will be very successful. Their parents and their hometown can be very proud of them now. And they will be even more so in the future.