Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Need for Role Models

September 18, 2011

When I was young, one of the careers I considered was becoming a medical doctor. I spent much time around doctors in my younger years and was inspired by their knowledge, compassion, and expertise. Indeed, my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Koop, was one of my childhood heros! As I grew up, I discovered that I really didn't like spending time in clinics, hospitals scare me, and I don't like to be around sick people if I can help it. In the end, I concluded that my involvement in the medical field is best limited to watching medical dramas on TV. Besides, could I really keep up with the physical demands that are required to become a doctor? I have never met or heard of a member of the medical community with cerebral palsy: doctor or nurse.

Until two weeks ago.

After posting my last blog entry I heard from an old HS friend who is now a doctor. She shared with me that one of her fellow residents that she currently works with has cerebral palsy. This idea encouraged and inspired me! Wow! There really are people out there with CP who make it through medical school with all of its requirements of spending long hours on your feet tending to patients.

What a role model this person must be to his peers, patients, and their parents. What hope he must be able to offer families that he meets, especially when they have a child with CP or other disability. I think I would have been very inspired as a child to meet someone who shared my struggle and had found a place within one of the most prestigious professions in the working world.

I may not have ever met such a physician, but I was blessed in my developing years to have strong role models in my family, many who are teachers like I eventually became. Education is a bit of a “family business” in the Hill household. I am a third generation educator and one of over 10 extended family members who teach. Three more are currently pursuing their license. Growing up, I watched my parents enjoy a balanced and family-friendly lifestyle. I saw how they loved kids and the opportunity to help students learn. Watching them in their career helped me make my ultimate career decision to become a school library media specialist.

Which brings me to my point: We all need role models, people who are willing to be an example for the next generation. I think having a role model helps others to see past their limitations and areas of weakness to envision how they might someday fit seamlessly into the working world of adults. It helps them to see that they have a future. What a difference adults can make when they speak a word of encouragement to someone younger. It could be as simple as, “I believe in you.” You never know how one word of encouragement can change the course of a person's life.

In addition to speaking words of encouragement, I think role models live a life that is an example for others to follow. This can be done in quiet ways like:

  • Showing up for work on time,
  • Following up with people in a timely manner
  • Completing tasks to the best of your ability
  • Eating right/exercise/stretching (this is where I fail miserably)
  • Being available to the needs of others
  • Fully listening/being present with others

Or, more formal ways like:
  • Becoming a mentor
  • Coaching
  • Teaching
  • Volunteering
  • Job-Shadowing/Participating in career day

You never know who is watching and you never know when you may inspire a life. Be a role model! The next generation is looking for someone to look up to!

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more Jenny. Especially about the last bit about "You never know who is watching you and you never know when you inspire a life." The same holds true about being a christian... that's why I try and live Galatians 2:20 daily.

    Thanks for your inspiration!