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By: Saul Flores

For my younger siblings and I, the start of a new year meant a ziplock bag full of warm tamales wrapped in green corn husk. We filled our backpacks with newly-sharpened pencils, 99 cent composition books, and off-brand yellow highlighters. Finally, my parents’ year of nannying, scrubbing floors, and working odd jobs had paid off. It was time for the first day of school and time for us to think big.

For many students across America (including younger myself), the privilege of obtaining a proper education is a distant dream. As we journey through scorching deserts and ride on crowded caravans, this grand dream gives us courage. No matter how dangerous, every obstacle is a minor sacrifice our parents are willing to make if it means that one day their children can blossom.

Being the first in my family to attend college, I was burdened with navigating the educational system and carving a path for myself, with no roadmap for how to get there. As we welcome 2019, I can’t help but recall the incredible pressure I felt as I began pursuing education. “Will I let my family down? Am I choosing the right major? How can I create a life of purpose?” With time, I discovered that by reflecting on my past, I was able to understand which path I wanted to walk. I knew that my upbringing would carry me forth in the direction of my dreams.

My college experience allowed me to uncover a deeper sense of self. It helped catalyze my efforts to create a positive, lasting change in the world around me. Above all, college encouraged me to ask important questions and taught me how to think big.

Today, students from all walks of life can discover their own truths and think big about their potential to change this world. When we share experiences, opportunities, and dialogues with our students, we provide a space for thoughtful inquiry and exploration. It is in these spaces where students can discover the meaning of their own voices, and truly gain a sense of self.

My wish for you this year is that you create a space, a community, that allows your students to think big.

To learn more about Saul’s keynote, Think Big, and his service work in Mexico, visit campuspeak.com/saul-flores