Archive for December, 2010

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My Letter to the President

December 16, 2010


Back in September 2009, I wrote a letter to the President. I was frustrated because I didn’t have a job since graduating in May of that year. I talked about this later on in December of that year on this blog. I was also inspired by the song above to write this letter. The last line in my letter comes from the song. It was a great line. I had to use it. Check out my letter below.

Dear Mr. President,
My name is Daniel Tejada Jr. I am a 21 year old Black/Hispanic man from Brooklyn, New York. I would like to start by saying good luck on the health reform project. I support everything you have laid out in regards to it. I hope you are successful especially with the public option because people like me really do need it. Don’t give up! As for your speech to the school children, I loved it because I believe in personal responsibility myself. That’s enough about recent events. Let me tell you a little about myself and something that I feel is not being addressed.

I was born into the welfare system. Up into now, I’ve been on public assistance. For about 14 years, I’ve been living in public housing with both of my parents, my little brother and my little sister. My life hasn’t been an easy one. I really did not mind being on public assistance. The one thing that made my life difficult was my parents. They both dropped out of high school in their junior year. They developed horrible habits in their lifetime such as drinking beer everyday. These habits have caused them to become parents who are not invested in their children. What I mean by that is caring about their children’s education.

After junior high school, I started to notice that my parents simply didn’t care about the grades I brought home. This didn’t stop me from doing my best. It just hurt me to not have my parents be happy for my excellent performance in school. They already have done this to my brother who’s a senior in high school. He suffered greatly because of this. He’s at the risk of not graduating on time and has no plans for the future. I’m starting to see my parents caring less about my sister’s education. She’s in the sixth grade. I’m trying my best to fill the void my parents have left to ensure greatness for my siblings.

During my second year in high school, I started to realize that I didn’t want to live the lifestyle I was living. I needed to get out. I needed to be better than my parents. It was in this year that I discovered higher education. It was my dream to go away to a private college which was against my father’s wishes. I worked harder than I ever have done before to make my dream a reality. I applied to various scholarships to lower the cost of college. At the end of my senior year in high school, I’ve done what my parents couldn’t do which was getting a high school diploma. At the same time, my dream of going away to a private college came true. In the Fall of 2005, I enrolled in Skidmore College which is located in Saratoga Springs, New York.

I was free from the stress of my life with my parents. I was three hours away. At Skidmore, I blossomed. I got involved in various clubs. I created my own club called Hip Hop Alliance which is a club that brings people of all backgrounds together to discuss many issues such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. It was at Skidmore where I found my true calling, American culture and American history. I majored in American Studies. During college, I decided to take action on a cause that is reflective of my life. I wanted to help kids like me succeed. I became a mentor for Saratoga Mentoring which is a division of Big Brothers Big Sisters. I also started to give motivational speeches to kids like me. The Education Club at Skidmore started a program where they brought middle school students from Brooklyn, New York once a year. In the second year of this program, I asked the club if I could talk to the students. They give it to me without even asking what I was going to talk about. Once the day came, I told the students about my life and give them three rules I followed my whole life which are based in my belief of personal responsibility.

After an incredible four years, I graduated with a BA without any student loans. Now, we are at the point where the problem that I feel is not being addressed comes in. Right now, I am one of the many unemployed Americans. Many of my friends of color from college are in the same boat. I figured that I would take a year off from school to make a greater impact with children, save some money and be there for my siblings. Towards the end of my senior year in college, I’ve applied for many service programs and jobs. I got rejected by Teach for America which was very heartbreaking for me. Recently, I got rejected for a position in a not-for-profit organization I used to be in high school which was also heartbreaking for me. I’ve been applying for many jobs including minimum wage ones, but nothing hasn’t been moving for me. I’m starting to lose hope, Mr. President.

I was told to do well in school by many figures such as yourself and now there is nothing out there for me. I feel stuck. I cry mostly everyday about this because I got a college degree and I’m still where I started, living in public housing with my parents. I tried everything, but going on welfare. I’m trying to avoid that. Everyday I avoid my parents so that they would not ask me to be on their welfare case. It is very heartbreaking for people like me to start from nothing move to greatness then back to nothing. Mr. President, we need you to help us. You must do something about this or many people like me will be lost forever. I’ve done everything I could up to this point. It really is out of my hands. For once in my life, I feel like giving up. Dear Mr. President, I really hope you read this letter and do some things to make sure the next one I write is better.

The one of many people who voted for you and are inspired by you,
Daniel Tejada Jr.

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Young Adults, Stand Up!

December 8, 2010

YES!!!


Last night, I attended 2010’s Beat the Odds Awards dinner. Just as I did at last year’s event, I gave a speech. This year’s speech was about getting young people to step up.

The Beat the Odds scholarship has great meaning to me. Before I won the award in 2004, I was a boy trying to figure out how to escape poverty and the mental effects of it. I grew up in a home where every day I wondered if my siblings and I would get two meals, let alone three. I grew up in a home where I had to step between fighting parents. I grew up in a home that was a jail to me.

Winning this scholarship made me realize that people do care. It instilled a great hope in me. It was the gas that filled my tank. It lit a passion in me. That passion is to help my fellow brothers and sisters anyway I can. When I look at the brothers and sisters who I grew up and went to school with, I see the same hopelessness and confusion I once had. When I look at the brothers and sisters I serve at my job now, my passion is inflamed.

When I look at people such as Dr. King and Mrs. Edelman, I’m inspired to do more for my brothers and sisters. I’ve done things myself such as mentoring and creating the club Hip Hop Alliance at Skidmore College whose core mission is to bring people together, but I want to go above and beyond those things.

With that said, I call upon my fellow [brothers and sisters] to join me in ensuring not only our own success but the success of our brothers and sisters.

Let us work as hard as Marian Wright Edelman to ensure children have access to health care and to prevent abuse against children. Let us work as hard as she did in the founding of the Children’s Defense Fund. Let us be the voice of the poor children alongside CDF.

Please meet with me after this event is over, my brothers and sisters. THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO BE DONE!

Brothers and sisters, we must stand up for our young brothers and sisters. We have nothing to lose!

Volunteer at a local church/library or become a mentor in a mentoring program. There is so much you can do for your brothers and sisters.

If you happen to live in New York City, feel free to get in touch with me if you would like to work with me on the various things I got cooking. If you want to get involved but don’t know where to start, check out these sites and if you live in New York City, check out this site as well. Let us not leave any of our brothers and sisters behind!