Shared Stories

I first heard Darden Smith on a local radio program as I was leaving town for the weekend.  Darden was on the radio promoting his newest album and I have not been able to stop thinking about Darden and the stories he shared since, that was over 6 weeks ago.

In this TED Talk Darden shares a song he co-wrote with Radney Foster, and which was likely my first time to hear Darden and his gift.

Also in this talk, and the reason I share it with you today, is he talks about the fear and excitement in using our gifts.  Darden’s gift is songwriting and he talks about some of the creative ways he is using his gift.

In many ways Darden’s story is like many of our own stories.  He shares being in an unfamiliar place sharing his songwriting and thinking he has nothing in common with those he is around.  So often we find ourselves in a group of people and may have the same thoughts, “Do I have anything in common with these people?”  “Does anyone know I am here?”  We do have something in common with those around us and we share stories with those in our space, sometimes in the most unlikely of places.  Sometimes finding the commonalities may require a little digging to find.  This past week I was sitting at the car shop all day for three days in a row.  Although I was in an unfamiliar community the shared stories of the other customers who were waiting for their repairs continue to excite me. Some of the customers shared their stories of their search for meaningful relationships, their passion to travel and find their career aspirations.  We talked of shared tastes in music and film and places to travel.

In the video Darden also shares some of the unconventional ways he shares his gifts.  He pursued life as a rock star for many years.  He has written and recorded several songs that resonate with me and have become part of my life script.  One of current ventures is using the stories soldiers share and helping them write songs.  One of the unconventional ways I have used my gifts in the past was as a Volunteer Coordinator with Grace Hospice.  Through that experience I grew and was shaped by the lives I crossed paths with.  Working with Volunteers was not something I had set out to do and in many ways felt unqualified to do.

One of the things I enjoy most about providing Career Counseling is helping clients expand their search to include career paths and opportunities they may not have considered.  Helping them find unconventional ways to use their gifts and interests and I think that is why this video is so powerful for me at this time.



Resources for Undocumented College Students

Working at University Career Services the past three years has offered me the opportunity to work with students who immigrated to the United States with their parents at a young age.  Often they ask questions about how to represent their work history on a resume and what are some of the entities that would sponsor them in obtaining a HB-1 Visa so they can continue to build skills and move along their career paths.  This motivated me to attend a professional training at Texas State University for staff and faculty on the issues faced by this population and the resources available to them (both on campus and off).

I do not ask students whether they are documented or not, but allow them to share such if they are comfortable.  As a university entity I am bound by rules and legislation to keep that information confidential and I would not want to violate this and the student’s trust.

Conversations about how to help college students who are undocumented began long ago.  We as a nation first began talking about The Dream Act in 2001.  The DREAM Act stands for Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors.  These are children who immigrated to the United States with their parents and are currently attending college.  We continue to talk about The DREAM Act, and as of today it has yet to pass legislation.  This act would allow for a six year conditional residency status for undocumented individuals who met specific criteria, including receipt of a high school diploma or GED and must be between 12 and 35 years old at the time of application.  Currently ten states have passed laws allowing undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition and Texas is one of them.  None of these states have experienced an influx of enrollment in higher education.  The DREAM Act is not amnesty.

This act would allow students to work legally in the United States, attend school and/or join the military.  These students would have the opportunity to not be forced into work as domestic workers, as day laborers or sweatshop factory workers.

If these students waited for documents like “everyone else” they would be waiting a long time and it could result in their career paths being put on hold.  The average wait time for a Green Card for a skilled worker is over 5 years.  For those who are siblings of US Citizens, the wait is 11-12 years.  I cannot imaging putting my career on hold for this long, can you?  The fee for hiring a skilled foreign-born professional is more than $3,000 for each individual.  When an entity agrees to sponsor a visa of this nature they are making an investment.  They must first prove a non-US Citizen is able to fill this position.

There is a movie that came out in 2009 that I would like to see, Papers.

As a result of today’s training I have more understanding of the challenges the students face and have some valuable resources to share with them.