Voices-Part I: Influence and Motivation Starts at a Young Age

Written by Crystal Stonewall
29 September 2020
Posted in Voices

On my first day as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a professor told me, “teachers impact your life forever; no one can tell where their influence stops.” We engaged in a discussion about our past educational experiences, particularly those where teachers influenced our decisions to pursue a bachelor’s degree and I reflected on my CICS Wrightwood elementary school experiences when he was talking to me.

CICS Wrightwood is a school I will never forget. The experiences there made me who I am today! I was the school’s third valedictorian. I was involved in many curricular and extracurricular experiences including school band, cheerleading team, a science fair finalist and a Young Author finalist. These activities helped to instill my motivation, competitiveness and vision as a young person. People say teachers contribute to a student’s academic drive. For me, it was my 8th grade teacher, Mr. Gordon. He once shared a personal anecdote on resilience that has stayed with me. I never imagined that I would meet a lawyer with a background in education. I always thought teachers were solely focused on a one career track-education. His academic journey, along with my family’s guidance, influenced me to pursue a degree in Elementary Education and also seek a law degree. Fast-forward nine years later, I find myself following his same career path, an education major pursuing a law career.

What CICS Wrightwood Means To Me 

I attended CICS Wrightwood from 3rd grade to 8th grade and was a part of the first group of students to enroll at this charter school. My parents supported the transfer as the school was near our home in the Ashburn neighborhood. But more importantly, my mom and dad saw what stood out at Wrightwood–the teachers and staff, the curriculum and how welcoming everyone was. The transition to Wrightwood was effortless due to everyone making me feel part of a community. This is a true testament to CICS Wrightwood’s welcoming environment. The school’s constant dedication to building future leaders and trailblazers like myself was important for my parents because they wanted my siblings and I to succeed. 

Continuing My Education

My desire to be an advocate continued during my years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. Continuing my practice of being the change that I want to see, and contributing to a diverse perspective, I served as a member of the University of Wisconsin Student Advisory Board for both the Dean of Students office and the School of Education. Serving on these boards provided me with the platform and resources to advocate for students who felt under-represented and voiceless and offered the opportunity to work collaboratively with top-level university officials to impact student affairs for all students.  

My educational background, beginning with attending CICS Wrightwood, as well as professional training and networking, co-curricular leadership activities and other professional experiences, fortified my passion to pursue a career as a lawyer. I aspire to become an interpreter of the law, an advocate of legal rights, a representative of the “invisible” and a voice for the voiceless. I want all CICS students to find their passion and seek avenues of inspiration just as I did with Mr. Gordon, and the entire CICS Wrightwood staff under the leadership of Mr. David Lewis.


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