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The Day I Decided to Quit Law School - Our Founder's Personal Story

Posted by Children First Foundation USA on January 8, 2018 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (1)

After more than five years of working as a paralegal, one day, I decided to go to law school. I did not know how I was going to do it or what I had to do to make this happen, all I knew is that I was going to take a leap of faith and jump! As I began the journey in Fall of 2012, there were many times, I felt defeated, devastated, exhausted, and unable to give anymore of myself, yet somehow I persevered. The most memorable moment was the day I decided to quit law school. I had started attending law school in a part time evening program that would allow me to continue to work full time. My week days consisted of waking up at 6am everyday, dressing and preparing my three boys ages, 12, 9 and 6 for school everyday. Later, the commute to downtown Miami to my full time job as a paralegal in a boutique law firm would follow. My schedule was from 9am through 5pm. Thereafter I would drive North 30 miles into a neighboring county to attend law school from 6pm to 10pm at night. I would then return home only to begin again. During one of these days, I was at the end of my rope. I felt I could no longer give anymore of myself. I was empty, tired, overextended in every way possible. On this night, I decided to quit law school. I drove home in tears, devastated to be in this position and to feel this way. What was I doing with my life? Taking time from my kids and family, taking out student loans to pay for law school, wasting needed resources and feeling drained everyday of my life. It no longer made sense to continue in this path. Drowning in tears and driving through the dark highway, I came to peace with this decision. It was ok to fail and quit law school as it would have been worse to not have tried at all.

What happened in the next moments was unexpected. As I arrived home in tears and bid farewell to the babysitter watching my boys that night, I lay down my purse and heavy books, took off my heels and walked into my room, finally at peace, away from the noise of the world. I was perplexed as I looked at the wall next to my bed. There were various pieces of paper on the wall with writing on them. Confused as to what this could be, I looked closer. What I found brought even more tears to my eyes, but strength to my soul. The wall was filled with writings by my 9 year old son, middle child. The first writing said “Be the Change you with to be – Gahndi.” The second writing said “Heros are Not Forgotten Legends never Die – Babe Ruth.” The last piece of paper was a list of goals I had written myself. The last goal written on the bottom of that list was “Finish law school.” There was something different about this list, at the bottom there was an added message from my son, which read “Keep Going MA, love You From: Chris J.” The tears took over and there I was overwhelmed with emotion. The day I had made up my mind to quit and move on from law school, was the day I was faced with this message to keep on keeping on. There was no doubt in my mind that this message was heaven sent from greater powers. What would compel a nine year old to paste writings on a wall for his mom on that very day? Only a greater power could do that. In that moment, I knew that despite the turmoil, despite the exhaustion, I had to keep going, keep going to fulfill my purpose and end goal and that is what I did. Today, I am a practicing attorney, and I owe it in great part to my son.

Survey Finds That Youth Educational Travel Provides Career Advantages in Tough Economic Times

Posted by Children First Foundation USA on April 23, 2012 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

According to an article and survey published on Business Wire the following benefits of student travel were found:

Results showed that students who went on a school sponsored educational tour outside the U.S. or Canada between the ages of 12 and 18 were significantly more likely to:

  • Be more educated Attain a college degree or post graduate work (67% vs. 34%)
  • Maintain a higher college GPA (3.39 vs. 3.30)
  • Study abroad in college (29% vs. 13%)
  • Be more successful, even in tough economic times Employed full-time (61% vs. 40%)
  • Report a higher household income ($72,300 vs. $52,200)
  • Be more marketable to colleges and employers 61% agreed that the tour enhanced their resume when applying for college 54% agreed that the tour enhanced their resume when applying for jobs

You can read the full article on the following link. Click here.

The Many Benefits of Travel for Children

Posted by Children First Foundation USA on April 11, 2012 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (15)

The benefits of student travel are priceless. Children who experience travel experience new found confidence, higher grades, stronger college applications, and enhanced career prospects. There are many more different benefits of travel for children. It also allows them to develop a more open minded mindset and increases their ability of collaboration. Travel can be a preventative measure for many different aspects of a child's life as they reach adult hood because it increases their awareness and allows them to view situations under a new light. Travel has also shown to increase intellectual capacity and emotional abilities. It has consistently shown to improve academic success.

In this article by H.M. Guffey a few of the benefits of travel identified are as follows:

  • Increased Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Heightened Geographical Awareness
  • Increased Intelligence
  • Marked Increase in Curiosity
  • Heightened Interpersonal Awareness

Michelle Kulas of Demand Media further discusses the benefits of educational travel for children in this article.

Public relations specialist and writer Karen Banes lists additional benefits of travel for children and students in this published article. Here is the list:

  • Improved knowledge of world geography
  • Knowledge and understanding of other cultures
  • The opportunity to learn a new language
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved career opportunities
  • Becoming more open-minded

 At at a time where our society reaches global maximization it becomes even more valuable and important to have travel experience. The International Student Travel Conference states that student travel and the exchange of ideas it encourages, contributes to education and plays an important role in developing greater international understanding. The Association for Tourism and Leisure Education along with ISTC have published an extensive bibliography of research and publications on student and youth travel.

If we give children more travel opportunities they will excel in ways that they, parents, and teachers never imagined. We must move forward in our society to encourage activities such as travel which lend themselves toward the development of skills that last a lifetime.

Children First Foundation USA believes that travel serves to increase the quality of life and standard of living of families while instilling culture within the household. We rely on the premise that travel enriches the lives of children and families by allowing them to experience travel for the purpose of learning about other cultures, history, art, music, opera, human rights and empathy awareness in order to encourage educational and intellectual development as well as to foster multicultural awareness.

Support our travel programs! You will help make a long term impact on the lives of students everywhere.

Family Values

Posted by Children First Foundation USA on April 10, 2012 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (3)

Family Values

What do we define as Family Values? In today's world it is not easy to say. Does it mean having a family unit consisting of a Father and Mother that are married to each other and Children born of that marriage where the two parents are still together? Traditional old family values would say yes.

We think this ideal view of a Family is quite antiquated and no longer applies to the world we live in. We define Family Values as a mutual respect and mutual consideration between the members of a family or household. A union of the family unit working together in the best interests of the household especially the CHILDREN.

Some examples of Modern Day Family Units:

* Single Mothers living with children part time of full time

* Divorced Single Mothers living with children part time of full time

* Single Fathers living with children part time of full time

* Divorced Single Fathers living with children part time of full time

* Gay/Lesbian couples living with adopted children

* Stepparents living with significant others' children

* Families living with adopted children

* Single mothers with children born of artificial insemination

* Foster parents living with foster childre

The variations are many. While there is much room to discuss controversial topics, the bottom line is that there are CHILDREN involved! This being the case we stand by our definition of FAMILY VALUES found above.

It is necessary to cultivate these children in the spirit of unity & collaboration for their own good and for that of all members of the household.

So are you a broken family if you are missing a dad or a mom or a "real dad" or a "real mom"? We say NO. By sticking to your family unit & sticking together to the end you can be a fully functional family unit despite the existence of old traditional views.

Is it best to have both parents involved? We say YES! And again, in the spirit of unity & collaboration.

Parents - In our Public Schools - You are the Clients

Posted by Children First Foundation USA on April 10, 2012 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (2)

On April 26, 2010, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made an appearance at Barnes and Noble (Kendall Location) to address concerns and talk to parents, teachers, and students in the community. During his appearance, Superintendent Carvalho addressed many important issues and also addressed specific concerns from those in the audience, including Directors from Children First Foundation USA.

In this blogpost we will try to summarize the discussions we had with the Superintendent. Miami Dade County Public Schools is the 4th Largest District in the Nation and during his 16 month term as Superintendent MDCPS has had to run a 5 billion dollar budget on 4 million dollars. Mr. Carvalho stressed the importance of acquiring Race to the Top grant funds from the Federal government.

On Students in General

Mr. Carvalho stated that we must consider the children's environment and emphasize Respect, Restraint, and Responsibility as well as have less concern for teaching to test and work on maintaining Physical education, Art, Music, and Gifted programs in our schools. He also mentioned that children learn at different rates and have different styles of learning. We could not agree more! For children with disabilities we should have the least possible restrictive environment.

On Parents as Clients & Needing Parents to Help Out

As parents we need to contact our legislators and voice our concerns regarding excessive accountability standards being imposed on our children. There is disregard for the different ways children learn in this black and white system of scoring students. During this discussion, Director, Julia Figuerola discussed her concerns as a parent. She discussed how her daughter being a bright child was being discouraged from learning at a 2nd grade level and from this young age due to the impositions of teaching to test and disregarding the child as an individual.

 On School Funding

It is about priorities. The Florida Constitution states that Public Education is a right to all and we must exercise this right! As a state we need to keep our priorities in check. Mr. Carvalho pointed out that the state spends about $36,000 per State prisoner, but only about $6,000 per Student!!!

As property values decrease it is obvious that funding to the schools has decreased as well since a great portion of our property taxes are allocated for school funding. So this brought me to ask the following question....What other sources of funding are being considered? In a nutshell the answer from Mr. Carvalho was that he would not want to impose additional taxes for school funding. There are some grants being received for additional funding.

We say that the school board should get creative and look to the business community for funding by implementation of creative theme based educational programs. How, where, and how? We have many ideas, but we must move one step at a time!

In his own words, we need an "Awakening of Populist Common Sense."

Parents, stay informed! Stay up to date with all the developments happening with regards to your children's education.

“A passive and ignorant citizenry will never create a sustainable world.” -Andrew Gaines

Pictured from Left to Right - Julia Figuerola, Past Director of Children First Foundation USA, Alberto Carvalho, SuperIntendent of Miami Dade County Public Schools, and Maria Santi, Executive Director of Children First Foundation USA

On Being Responsible Parents

Posted by Children First Foundation USA on April 10, 2012 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Every day daily obligations change & we are pulled in many different directions. And more often than not many parents are doing what is best for their children and performing in their daily lives for their children. In other cases this may not be true.

We believe children should always come first in a household. Even if this means having to put individual differences aside. Sometimes it is best to be an observer before making hasty decisions. It is always best to look around and assess every situation from every direction in order to make the best decisions for children.

There are many different types of households. Single parent households are often faced with higher demands. Join parent groups and talk to others around you if you are a single parent. There is much help out there & sometimes just by socializing you find exactly what you were looking for! So get out there! If you are a married parent open up your heart & mind to today's ever changing family structures and offer your wisdom and support to other family households seeking guidance.

Always stay POSITIVE! Positive thinking will get you to your destination quicker and happier! And always put your children first!