I had an interesting conversation with my mother the other day and brought back some memories from high school. I went to high school with a very energetic, engaging, creative, thought provoking, and down right drive you crazy at times person when I was in high school. He was a true light to the classroom and the way he challenged me made me a better person, his name was Freddy Outlaw, and he was amazing. When we were sophomores we were learning about the concept of the United States being a "melting pot" and what did that idea mean to us. Now, I have had several classes on cultural diversity, but my true learning about diversity did not come until I went to Oklahoma for graduate school. Freddy wrote this amazing essay about the land of milk and honey, and the fields of gold (now I was a sophomore in 1996, so I don't know if Sting stole Freddy's idea or if Freddy stole Sting's idea), and how there was a place for everyone. I still remember the essay, sadly, because it was one of the final essays that Freddy wrote shortly before he was killed in a car accident.
I was remembering the conversation because I was telling my mother I was blogging about scholarship opportunities and she reminded me I needed to tell everyone about minority scholarships, and benefits available to Native Americans. Yes, Freddy was of Native American descent, but the funny thing is, I am as well.
Now we get into the interesting part of the conversation. It took a little bit for me to be able to go to Oklahoma State, and most of it fell to my mother, who is half Cherokee. She had to provide tribe information and be able to name the last of the descendent's that was one hundred percent Native American. I have to say, it took a long time for her to find it, which surprised me. So the conversation continued. Here in the twenty-first century many take pride in the fact that they are of mixed heritage and how they fit into America as a whole. I asked Mom why it took so long to find out the last descendent was, and she said in all honesty, "Because, when my Grandmother was live, it wasn't something you bragged about." When my grandmother was born, her mother had a choice, she was technically married to a man who was of Native American descent, but, according to everyone he was white, so my grandmother was white (now my grandmother was like six of thirteen children so this happened about five kids before she was born). So when my Mom was born, she was white, because in 1933, and in 1955, it was not something to be proud of. So I continued with the conversation, so why are you proud of it now. She said her friends always new, and as she said, it was not hard to tell. My mom was 5'11 at her fullest height, and had long, long jet black hair, and the skin tone that most would kill for. Now, black hair, and height does not make you automatically Cherokee, but as she said, growing up, it was something that people knew, but she was "white" on her birth certificate.
As I come closer to my point, our conversation continued. My Great-Grandmother's name was Pull Tree. Yup, that was it, in its fullest form, Pull Tree. When she married, she married a man with the last name of Barton, and she became Pull Tree Barton, and her children were never given a Native American name, because, they were no longer Cherokee. Now, as I said I had a point. While at Oklahoma State, my mother found enough of the necessary information to qualify me for a little bit of money for school, when I say little, I do mean little. Not that they did not believe me, but when the math works out, I am far enough removed, that I am a little higher than a sixteenth, but now quite a quarter, and you had to be at least a sixteenth to get some funds. So here I am 5'4, blonde, and blue-eyed, with a great-grandmother named Pull Tree. To be fair everyone else on my Mom's side of the family is six foot or higher and has more dominating characteristics that align to Great-Grandma Pull Tree. So the question is, why did it take Mom so long to find all of this out, because, you had to have the Native American name to identify your tribe, and all my mother's life she knew her grandmother as Pearl.
I believe that diversity is something to be celebrated and honored. I believe that we forget that we are descendants of someone and that it should be celebrated. Everyday people cross over with visas in hand to begin new jobs, school, careers, some will stay and raise their families, some will return home after enjoying the experience of living abroad, but we need to celebrate the differences that we bring. As I said my biggest lesson on cultural diversity came while I was at Oklahoma State, not because of Great-Grandma Pull Tree, but because I started OSU in 2003, with 30,000 students, and over a third were from out of the country, half were from the Middle East. At twenty-three, I was young and naive, and believed everything I had heard on the news for two years, but I learned more about the real world in thirty seconds then the four years prior. So, I believe that cultural diversity is something that we need to talk about and share. We need to be proud of who we are and where we come from, and if you have never been out of your town before, then we need to take advantage of the technology that we are surrounded by and take a virtual field trip. The world is changing at such a rapid pace, that we are to a point that we have to get on the train and hang on as tight as possible.
So, in summary, take advantage of your heritage and find out if there are any scholarships available or if their are organizations that help fund first generation students going to school. For everyone else, we need to talk about how being different is okay, and learn how to communicate
I met a gentleman today that really did have something to brag about. His daughter had been accepted to Samford (Go Dogs) on a softball scholarship (Go Kid) and he was going to be out a whopping 3,000 for the entire school year (Go Dad).
I never think about this until random times. Saturday at the choir concert I thought to mention it to one of Mike's drummers that is starting to UAB in the fall, but it never crosses my mind until odd times, there is still money laying around for school folks. Mike actually taught me this tidbit, and it used to drive me crazy. When Mike was in high school his private percussion instructor told him to save all of his programs and anything that he participated in, as I said, it used to drive me crazy because as a performance major those programs lead to three very large boxes. Now here is where I learned something pre-counseling, that I will share now, those programs, lead to money. Mike had a scholarship from Dawson First Baptist Church for a couple of years, and another scholarship from another church earlier in his days at Samford. He had played in a few church programs and had proof of performance and it helped land him about 1,500 bucks a semester (that is dorm fees for almost every school).
Another place to look for random money is in the career center at your local university. Anyone that has ever worked with children can find babysitting jobs, child care jobs, or nursery attendant positions at church's. Briarwood comes to mind, it is five dollars a child (or it was) to drop off a child, and they paid someone a nice salary once a month to keep the nursery, and at that time it was a college aged person.
I remember applying for the random scholarships, such as the left handed scholarship and the asthma scholarship, but, I like Mike was always able to find some random money throughout the year, like the 1,500 I got for marching and concert band (dorm anyone?). Even better, the work study money that I did not have to pay back and I was able to do most of it through the band.
Finally, my favorite one, that Samford helped with automatically, some of the incoming freshman need to get on the phone and see what is left, unclaimed money. May 1st is national acceptance day, that is the day that anyone receiving any money for their freshman year has to notify their university that they will accept the money. SO, what happens to the rest of the money? Well, I had a friend who graduated a couple of years before I did who knocked the ACT out of the park with like a 29, and ended up with a whopping 1,000 to Birmingham Southern, that's how she avoided working while at Southern during the school year, because the UNCLAIMED Presidential Scholarship covered tuition and books. Now she did call the second week of May asking for unclaimed money, but it never hurts to call and say hey, I am little short do you know of any money I could still try to get?
Like I said, I hated those boxes that Mike carried around, but, they were worth about 15,000 after the end of five years (that's like a years tuition at UAB).
I was asked earlier this weekend if I had any advice for a child that was going to be a freshman in high school. I have all kinds of advice, and most of that has come from working with freshman so intensely over the last several years. Rule number one, you are in high school, you are about to run a marathon and you do not even know it yet. High School accounts for 720 days of your entire life. If you do not learn anything day one, it is this, you are a freshman, you must earn at least 28 credits in most schools in order to graduate from high school. Your teachers are still just as loving and as understanding as they have always been, but you must sit in your seat at least fifty minutes every day for one hundred and eighty days in order to be eligible to earn a credit, not to mention, you are earning a credit so you must complete the work and you must complete it in a timely manner. This parent was concerned because her child was going to be in band and she did not know how she would balance all of her time, her Pre-AP classes and being at school until 5:30 everyday. I told her, that she will learn that she is responsible for earning credits, and that she will get more done from 5:45 until the time she passes out each and every night, she will learn to use her time wisely and study everyday in order to complete her assignments. There is a chance she will fall short the first nine weeks, but it will not be because of band, it will be because she is a freshman, and freshman are learning about timelines, due dates, responsibilities, and being involved in extra curricular activities. I am a firm believer that students need to be involved with an activity, and that activity will help them learn to balance everything in their life.
This is an information guide I have been giving to parents when issues arise on Facebook. This is from the American School Counselors Association Aspects that I get ever so often and this has been one of the best guides I have ever had when it comes to explaining to parents with how to deal with cyber bullying.
Would you be surprised if I told you that teens have tightened their security settings on Facebook? Would you be even more surprised that many teens are leaving Facebook for other social media? The Huffington Post published an article on June 20, 2013, called "Where Teens Go Instead of Facebook (and Why You Should Too)". According to the author, Becky Worley, when adults started joining MySpace, teens left for Facebook. Now that parents have joined Facebook to monitor their teens, teens have started joining other social networking sites. Sites such is Instagram, Tumblr, Pheed, and Twitter are receiving new clients each and everyday.
When Stephanie Jensen did her presentation on relational aggression back in December in Birmingham, we discussed in great detail how sites such as Pinterest and Instagram were taking over as places where teens were being bullied. I have to admit I was in shock to see that Worley said that teens had tightened their security to where photos and posts had limited access and that the new security settings and the ability to report abuse was being taken advantage of.
When Jenson mentioned in December Instagram and Twitter were becoming popular new spots for cyber bullying I made the comment, that I felt like it had to do with security, and the ability for parents to see what was going on. Parents can view Twitter accounts, but many parents often cannot see the entire conversation, or even see the impact that the 140 characters may be having.
Regardless of the social media that teens are using, parents need to be actively involved in all facets of social media. Instagram has no filter and no privacy setting, so whatever photo is published, the whole world can see it. Twitter, the user can accept followers, and limit who can see the post, but at the end of the day, Tweets can be found and shared by anyone.
I am all about freedom of expression. With that said, if a child is the correct age, and parents have expressed the correct way to use social media and set appropriate boundaries and consequences, then at this age in time, it is the way of the future, as long as it is being used responsibly.
For more information on setting guidelines for social media, cell phones, and cyber bullying then I recommend Rosalind Wiseman's, Queenbees and Wannabes. It is an amazing book for teachers and parents that addresses how to establish rules and consequences and how to respond if they do break a rule or fall victim to cyber bullying.
My name is Kelli Muncher. I a wife, mother, and school counselor. My children keep me grounded and running everyday, and when I say children I mean my two girls plus the 300 or so I try to serve during the week.