A young African-American male with well-maintained dred locks and his mother entered my office for a post secondary transition appointment. His mother asked questions about the various types of post secondary opportunities. She launched her questions like fiery missiles; it was difficult to defend her attack. “What’s the cost of tuition? What are the majors there? Will he get a job upon graduation in his field? Do they have dorms?” The interrogation went on and on.
I allowed her to ask every question that she had locked inside that she had been pondering since his birth. Then I simply said, “let’s see what his plans are?” She turned to him and said, “Yeah, what are your plans?” He politely remarked, “I told you, it’s construction management.” That’s when his methodical plan evolved before us. This young man’s post secondary strategy included attending the local technical college and earning a degree in construction management. He stated that he planned to continue working for his father’s construction company. Following that statement, he reminded his mother that he needed a ride to a construction site after school. Then he continued with his organized plan. “I plan to complete my associates degree, I hope to partner with my dad and eventually takeover his construction company.
As I listened, I was amazed and beamed with excitement because his goals were clearly defined. His mother then stated, “That she wanted what was best for him and also wanted him to experience the “college life”. It was my turn to intervene. I shared how countless students have entered my office with limited concrete ideas following graduation. Some young adults do have plans, but their goals do not include an ending that leads to a career.
I reminded her that I understood that she was passionate about his future, and the interrogation was forgiven. I communicated to her that her support and encouragement were needed most at this point.
The young man was respectful yet firm in his decisions for life following high school. Later that week, I saw him with a new hairstyle. I questioned him about his new appearance. With little emotion he voiced, “This is my success look.” “Soon, I will be studying to be a construction manager, I must look like I am able to manage things well.”
What an epiphany! He realized that individuals are sometimes overlooked for opportunities due to their appearance. Although, it’s not right, it does happen. Not only did he realize that opportunities could escape him based on his former appearance, he took steps to ensure a prospect that was within his grasp could potentially become a reality.
His senior year makeover will lead to his future takeover.
Bogan is head of the guidance department at Bradwell Institute and senior class counselor.