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Beat the Odds

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My father once told me that I must live in two worlds, the world of my heritage and the outside world. With my father's words as my guide, I will not allow the reservation to be the boundary of my world. I yearn to posses the invaluable wisdom of my ancestors as well as attain the knowledge vital to survival in the 21st Century.

On my quest for this knowledge I have come to appreciate that the Pueblo is and always will be my home. Statistics will never justify who I am as an individual or as an American Indian, and I will ceaselessly create my own fate.

On a map my home is only known as San Juan Pueblo, an Indian reservation. San Juan is more than another miniscule spot on the map. It is Ohkay ?w?ngeh, the land of the strong people. It is the land of my ancestors who knew the old ways, the right ways, the ways of harmony. In every tribe the land, Mother Earth, is the provider, the strength of the people. My strength is Ohkay ?w?ngeh. In the Pueblo many new ideas for the future arrive. In spite of that the old ideas of community and family never leave. I may travel the world over and again in my pursuit for knowledge, but I will always remember, Navi k?ygi nawe, my home is here.

"Native Americans have the lowest graduation rate of any racial or ethnic group nationwide ? Only three of every 100 ninth-graders will complete a four-year college degree?" I discovered this statement in an article I read of late. The article titled "Beating the Odds" by Stephanie Corns provides enlightenment on the significance of a Native American student receiving a degree. Upon reading the article I found myself dumbfounded by the figures, yet I felt another inspiration to continue my education after high school. I, too, crave to "beat the odds." Although staggering, these numbers truly give little information. Numbers cannot be used to comprehend the beauty of American Indian culture, or any culture for that matter.

The decision to continue with a formal education is indisputably that of the individual. These statistics will not be the basis, by any means, for my decisions in the commencement of my adult life. I will not consent to believing that I don't have a chance, although the odds are supposedly stacked against me. In my mind this will only result in a finer triumph when I succeed.

Just as triumph is nonexistent without failure, fate is incomplete without guidance. In my life I will be that guide. I will decide to triumph over life or fail. As an adolescent my decisions have been directed in the right direction by my parents. Now it is time for me to completely control my life. Not only will I control the present, but the future of my life as well. If destiny is set in stone I shall be the sculptor, forever to shape fate through decisions and the consequences of them. Making the decision to succeed in education is a road less traveled by the Native Americans. I will be one of the few to see where this road leads; this is my fate.

Embarking on this newfound path leading into my adult life will be a challenge, a challenge that I choose to seize. Realizing who I am and what I am capable of will only be the first step on this journey. I am Native American. I will not be vulnerable to statistics about my ethnicity. The future is a device for me to manipulate, and in doing so creating my own fate. I will "Beat the odds."

Mr. Oyenque, who will enter Dartmouth in the fall, wrote this essay for his college application.