Lori Gaither – Lori’s son Logan worked with Southwestern Advantage while at the University of Arizona
Looking back at my first response to the Southwestern Advantage program I cannot help but laugh. We, as parents, sure can be funny sometimes! We raise our kids up for 18 or so years teaching them to be responsible, accountable, and independent. Then they come up with this out of the box idea of running their own business selling books door to door and we sort of freak out. It’s OK to do an internship for a new start-up company and it’s OK to travel to an unfamiliar foreign country to attend school – but join a 160 year old program and relocate within the US – somehow THAT’S a crazy scary concept!
When we first met Emmie, the young lady who was recruiting our son, we were hoping to figure out our best angle to talk Logan out of selling books. We worried about all of the challenges he would face that we would not have the ability to fix. Out there he was going to have to learn firsthand about real world consequences for real world decisions.
Even though we had tried to teach Logan about natural consequences for decisions, he was still learning. His first summer could have come with titles such as: Consequence Acquisition 101, Consequences for Fun and Profit 201, and the more advanced class: Trial by Fire 451.
Each September, there is a wonderful luncheon to celebrate the accomplishments of students. Please do not miss it. As far as I know this type of recognition is unique only to Southwestern. My daughter who has had traditional summer jobs, which do not require her to live in a far off town, has done very well, but there is no grand luncheon at the end of her summer with honors, trophies, hugs, and tears. That’s right—I do not go through that event without crying at least once.
To see these young college kids take pride in the hard work they have done, and their peers have done, the connections they’ve made, the families whose lives they have affected by just chatting over a glass of cool lemonade, well, it does truly rekindle your belief in the next generation.
I am a schoolteacher in a public school gifted program in Tucson. I work with academically successful kids—we’ve raised two of them ourselves—and I am of the mind that academic success is largely due to being read to and parent involvement in their child’s education.
It has become very obvious to me that these two criteria are not all that common. As a teacher, I am also faced with constant education reform. It is also obvious that the public schools are faced with trying to level the playing field between those children who are blessed with quality parent involvement and those who are not. A parent armed with Southwestern books for their children could make THE difference in the academic success level for children. Previous to Logan or your child showing up on their doorstep and later delivering those beautiful products, that family may have had limited resources available.
The mere act of a young, vibrant college kid sitting down with parents at the kitchen table and saying, “I know that you believe education is important to your kids” may be the turning point, the light bulb coming on for the first time. It may be the first time some parents have had the “education IS important” conversation with their kids that gets the ball rolling.
Finally, I would encourage you to be your kid’s biggest fans. At the luncheon next Fall, you can know you were a big part of their success. And rest assured – Southwestern Advantage provides a huge safety net for them to learn how to fail and also to persist until they succeed. If you have frustrations with anything, talk about it to their supervisors, not your children. Call their student manager, or their sales manager, but remain positive for your kid. It can make a huge difference. Swallow your anxiety and send your kid out with your full support and blessing. Encourage them to go out there and make a difference, developing themselves and impacting others. You’ve raised a capable adult. Let them show you what they’re truly capable of.