By Yesenia Soria (OC Intern & Apprentice Alum 2018-2019) Pampa, Texas
I’m sure that at some point we have all heard the infamous saying “Curiosity killed the cat.”
I was in elementary school the first time I heard it…a comment uttered by a classmate after I had asked the teacher a series of questions on a book we were reading–and I was taken aback. I remember turning around, brunette pigtails swinging on either side of my face, and quickly responding “Well thank goodness cats have nine lives.” Looking back, I’m sure I could have said something more insightful. However, in the moment, I felt as if I was defending a significant part of who I was. I could not yet define it, but it was something that would continually shape me into who I am today.
From as early as I can remember, my parents encouraged an atmosphere filled with wonder and curiosity in our household. My dad would set alarms, wake us up in the middle of the night…and take us out to watch meteor showers. My mom would find books for us that ranged from fiction to non-fiction, story line to instructional. They allowed my brother and I to try a wide array of sports, take piano and drum lessons, compete on academic teams, and take on additional hobbies. We would go on bike trails together, travel, visit new museums, fiddle with vehicles in the garage, go camping, and volunteer for different organizations in town. Even as we grew older, we were reminded that learning was our greatest tool. It was a chance to open doors, to understand the world just a little bit more, and to see all the possibilities that life could offer two kids from a rural Texas Panhandle town.
My senior year, I decided I would attend Abilene Christian University, a school that promised new opportunities for growth and learning. The Honors College, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the College of Business Administration, and Study Abroad all became a part of my college experience. It was here, in a Community and Ethics course, that I first heard of the term “life-long learning,” defined as “the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for personal or professional reasons.” I loved the idea but wondered what this could mean in my life. Then I found myself at a crossroad. I was on pace to graduate in three years, but my scholarships would allow me to attend ACU for four years. I had a choice to make, and I eventually decided to stay the fourth year. I added English and Spanish minors to my Management major and Pre-Law concentration. That extra year allowed me to join other clubs and honor societies, write an undergraduate thesis, publish a couple of Spanish pieces, and gain new knowledge that three years would not have provided me. I graduated in May 2019 and started law school at Texas Tech University School of Law in following semester.
I share these things today not to provide my resume, but to share my story of how my ambition to be a lifelong learner has impacted my journey. I do not have all the answers. In fact, I still have so much to learn and so many new experiences to face. However, I know that these conscious decisions to take that opportunity to learn have challenged me, broadened my perspective, and opened the door to new possibilities. The beauty about lifelong learning is that no matter who we are or where we come from, we can actively choose to enjoy learning for the rest of our lives. We can indulge in new cultures and stories, gain wisdom that we can then share, discover new opportunities and places, see life through a different set of eyes, understand and help our community better, improve our job performance, and continuously grow.
And no journey must look alike. Though I have found my opportunities through education and school, learning can take a variety of forms, such as reading, traveling, completing internships or apprenticeships, listening to podcasts, writing, sketching, volunteering, and more. The idea of learning is all too often placed in a box, but the reality is that in every room we step into, every activity we partake in, every conversation we have with another, every event we attend, and every opportunity we take, there is a chance to learn. We can all ambitiously become lifelong learners. We just have to make those conscious decisions and take the opportunity.