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Monday, January 28, 2013

"Just a Thought" Column in La Prensa continues, 1-27

Just a Thought:  Final memoir of a “dumb kid”
By Steve Walker

For the past three weeks I have shared my experiences growing up as a “dumb kid.” From one perspective it is not too exciting. It is more therapeutic and hopefully inspirational for those like me who were not expected to accomplish too much in our lives.

Hopefully my sharing my personal saga as a “dumb kid
” will offer hope to others who have felt the shame of being labeled as such. It is not a feel good experience but it does shape us as to who we really are and what we can become.  
Fast forward to my college years when I applied to St. Mary’s University back in San Antonio so I could catch up with classmates from St. Gregory’s years before.

Unfortunately St. Mary’s denied me admittance due to my bad math scores. Well it was my worst subject. My second choice was Texas Wesleyan College in Ft. Worth. I had never heard of it but I saw it listed in the small college’s brochure of Texas and sent in an application.

They accepted me and I was thrilled to trek to Ft. Worth since I was always led to believe I would not even graduate from high school much less attend college. Turned out that fate was finally on my side as my five years there became a turning point in my less than lackluster life up to that time. Of course there were major financial obstacles and the problem with keeping up my grades that were lukewarm to say the least.

Going to college was special to me and it was my chance to shine, sort of kinda! The good news was my father paid for the first three years to include tuition and room and board in the dormitory. The bad news was he filed bankruptcy in my junior year and I was on my own and left to my own wiles.

I talked my way back into school since I lived in the dorm all that time and everyone knew me. Nobody questioned me when I moved back in without paying. I stalled enough time that when the bill came finally due, in desperation I went to the president of the college and informed him I had no money and could he help me. He looked at me like I was crazy! He told me it took guts to move in the dorm and register with no money. Fortunately he laughed and took pity on me and said “No one in my 35 years of being president has anyone ever asked me for help!” He got me the student loan from the loan officer and I went back to class. Maybe for the first time I wasn’t such a “dumb kid,” after all.

When I was a freshman, I ran for class president and lost. I ran for Freshman Cheerleader and lost. Because of bad grades I nearly was put on probation and expelled from school. I began having “dumb kid” flashbacks!

My junior year was the first time I enjoyed a modicum of success and my first taste of popularity. I was elected Varsity Cheerleader, pledged a social fraternity, inducted into the Drama Fraternity Alpha Psi Omega, elected Vice President of the Young Republicans, (having met Sen. Barry Goldwater for President in 64 in my freshmen year) Vice-President of my dorm, Sports Editor of my College Yearbook, and even had my share of dates although I eventually married my first wife from that group of dates before shipping off to Viet Nam after graduation. Viet Nam is a story for another column in the future.

In my first senior year I was active in my fraternity and in my second senior year I completed my student teaching and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” (Mr. T.W.C.) That was a major turning point in my life. Not bad for a “dumb kid.”

As always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Journalist and Justice of the Peace. His former La Prensa column, “Ask the Judge,” ran for two years.

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