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Monday, June 11, 2012

Part V: Deep in the Heart of Texas Gratitude Project Update

Who has recognized your abilities & helped you find your passion & reach your dreams?

Thought for the Day: ‎
 "When your actions do not match your values, you will always find dissonance."
Patti Blackstaffe 
"When your actions match your values, you will always find passion!" 
Dr Barbara Lavi
 (Thanks to The Life Change Network on Facebook for the quote which inspired me.)

      Cognitive dissonance is a psychological concept which describes the discomfort one feels when one's actions do not match their values. If cognitive dissonance is strong enough, it can change the course of a person's life. Read on to see how my guidance counselor, Barbara Edwards' vision & support not only changed the life of her student, but also. enabled them to find their passion & help make the world a safer place.
      As e-mails & facebook posts come in for my Gratitude Project I have been posting them on the blog & forwarding them to Ms. Edwards. This e-mail came in a week or so ago. I always request permission before posting someone's message on the blog. I just got permission for this one yesterday. It is in sharp contrast to the e-mail  which led to my previous post: You Don"t Have to Be Pollyanna or Wear Rose Colored Glasses to be a Dreamer. I was very moved by Martha's 1st e-mail & even more impressed when I heard more details in the 2nd e-mail, therefore, I decided to share it today. The contrast between the anonymous post I discussed in my last post & these two e-mails is striking. It shows how, as I said in an earlier post, one person really can do so much. If more people would go the extra mile it could make the difference between the life experiences of those we encounter in our lives. As I said in my response to the anonymous commenter,  I wish they had been one of Ms. Edward's students. Here's Martha, one of the people helped by Ms. Edward's e-mail:

Hello Dr. Lavi,
     I saw your post on the Bellaire Alumni FB page & I went to the link.  I read about your  gratitude project for Barbara Edwards & I could not believe it!!  Ms. Edwards changed my life!  I am who I am today because of her & I have always wanted to thank her, but have not been  able to find her.  I would love to be able .. to tell her how she changed my life & to thank her...
     I live in Missouri City in the Houston suburbs.  I graduated from Bellaire in 1980.  Thanks to  Ms. Edwards, in late June/early July of 1980 after I had graduated, I won a four year  scholarship to the university of my choice.  Because of that, she helped me to apply & get  accepted into Rice University long after the application deadline.  At Rice I met my husband  & we both got our degrees in Chemical Engineering.  My son is now a junior at Rice University.   All of this would not have happened if it were not for Ms. Edwards.


     In Martha's follow up e-mail, I learned more about her life story that makes it even more inspiring. Martha told me that, "Ms. Edwards knew that it would be difficult for my family to pay for my college, so she had me apply to every scholarship that came past her desk.  I was a  finalist in just about all of them, but the only scholarship I won was the one for a four year,  full ride to the school of my choice, plus it included a job every summer during college. That is how I was able to afford Rice University."
     After graduating, Martha worked at Rohm & Haas in the cyanide unit, making the acrylics for Plexiglass, which was their trademark.  While Martha was working there, the horrible cyanide accident happened in Bhopal, India. After the accident, her job centered around safety & environmental issues. When she she left Rohm & Haas, she continued working at environmental consulting companies.  She is now self employed & has a contract with an environmental engineering consulting company.  One of her jobs is to translate MSDSs from English into Spanish for chemical products that are sent to Mexico & South America. 
     By helping Martha find a way to go to college, Ms. Edwards also helped  her make a significant contribution to a cleaner & safer environment following a tragic accident. It is clear that Martha's actions matched her values & she found her passion in helping to make the world a safer place using her knowledge of chemical engineering & passion for safety.
       Ms. Edwards saw Martha's  talent & encouraged her to follow her dreams, despite her family's financial constraints. Who has helped you by recognizing your abilities to find your passion & follow your dreams?  I hope you will share your stories & remember to thank those who helped you along the way.


Barbara Lavi said...

Here's a comment that came from Chuck on a Facebook post:
"Being a gay student back in the 67s always tried to duck and hide but Ms Edwards always had an encouraging smile in the hall way."

NJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NJ said...

I used to work in the counselors' office at Bellaire in the mid-60's, for Barbara Edwards and Jeanne Wootters. They were wonderful, and stimulated my interest in becoming a counselor myself. In graduate school at UT, I modified the goal somewhat and became a School Psychologist. For one happy year while I worked in HISD, I had Bellaire as one of the schools I served. That year, I was fortunate to work with Barbara Edwards once again, during her time as head counselor at Bellaire. It was a treat re-connecting with her, this time as a fellow professional. I wish her the joy and satisfaction she deserves for the support and guidance she gave to generations of students at Bellaire.

Barbara Lavi said...

Thank you NJ for your post, I will make sure Ms Edwards sees it. I wonder if we worked in the guidance office together or just missed each other. Barbara