By Don and Sheri Stock
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Every parent and educator know this to be true. We also believe every child deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. Thomas Jefferson said, “Democracy demands an educated public.” We believe public education is the solution and should be well endowed to do so.
Don, my husband, is from a small town in NE Iowa (Waukon). I am from a small city in eastern Iowa (Muscatine). My first teaching job was government and economics in West Liberty, another small town. We live and worked for over 40 years on a very small tropical island isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (Guam). We know from our life experiences the positive impact that enrichment opportunities offer students from rural and small-town areas.
Enrichment opens minds to new interests, new people, different ideas and places. Students need respect and support. When given a chance to try something else –something unexpected – they often become self-motivated. They have participated in a new world and now they want to explore more. These enrichment opportunities begin a process to introduce new interests, so students can discover their passion in life.
A public university should use its multiple resources (people and facilities) to connect with as many young students as is possible – to open their minds to various possibilities they can pursue in later life. The younger this process begins, the better. Project HOPE is a perfect example of this endeavor. Middle schoolers are searching for their identity and a focus for their passions. Project HOPE reaches out to these rural and small-town students to offer hands-on experiences and real-life interactions with experts. These practitioners are in several different careers that are critical need areas for these students’ hometowns.
Project HOPE is an enrichment opportunity that opens students’ horizons to new career goals, especially in fields of need in their communities. For us, Project HOPE is a perfect blend of giving back to towns in Iowa like our hometowns and supporting public education enrichment opportunities for young students. Our support for Project HOPE continues my Guam teaching strategy to meet the needs of students: to offer enrichment opportunities so they have “Freedom to Soar Beyond all Barriers.”
Don and Cheri Stock
Tumon Bay, Guam
Don (BA, ‘72,, JD, ‘75)
Cheri (BA and Secondary Education Teaching Certificate, ‘74)
Project HOPE (Healthcare Occupations Preparation and Exploration), directed by Counseling Psychology Professor Saba Ali, is a STEM-based curricular intervention that integrates academic and vocational opportunities designed to connect minority and low socioeconomic middle school students to the health science professions early in their education.
Project HOPE addresses the critical national need to increase diversity in the American healthcare workforce. Project HOPE celebrated its 10th anniversary this past year. Over the past decade, an estimated 3,000 middle school students have participated in Project HOPE.
Read more from the 2018-2019 Annual Report.