by Lisa Calcasola
Patricia Escobar is a small woman with a golden heart. Ms. Escobar, like Mr. David Felicier and other adults gathering every Saturday to achieve their high school equivalency degree in lower Manhattan, notes the heavy emphasis on a diploma in today’s society. However unlike her husband, her reasons for getting her high school equivalency are a little different from simply moving up in the workaday world.
“It is such a blessing for me to be here,” says Ms. Escobar, smiling wide. “Especially for free! I am grateful every day for this opportunity and for these amazing teachers who never give up on us. That means so much.”
Ms. Escobar grew up in Mexico in poverty. She came to the United States at 21 years old to work as a nanny. Ever since she’s been a child herself, Ms. Escobar has been in love with helping children play and grow.
“This is why I want an education,” she said to the class. “Education is really important for everyone and can really make a difference. I am here because I hope I can educate myself to be better, and through this education also help others. Education helps us help other people. That is my main goal: to help others by becoming more educated myself.”
Ms. Escobar’s goal is very noble: to learn for learning’s sake, with the hopes that a more educated man or woman will spread knowledge to others and make the world better.
After finishing her high school equivalency program, Ms. Escobar hopes to attend college and pursue a degree in early childhood education.
“I have always loved children. I’ve worked as a nanny for different families and it is always so sad to say goodbye once the children get older and don’t need me anymore. Of course I always stay in touch with the families, but it’s not the same.
“Caring for children is hard!” she reminds everyone emphatically. “People think caring for a child is easy. Have them change all the diapers!”
Ms. Escobar has been smiling throughout her speech. Her final words are a bit more serious and obviously come from a personal place. She looks at us Fordham students and says:
“Be thankful that your parents can afford to send you to college and get an education. It is the most important thing, and if they are helping you do that, you are very, very lucky. I had to quit high school because my family was poor and I needed to work to help support them. If you are able to go to school because your family can provide for itself, take every advantage.”