Few things have a greater impact on our lives than decisions we make based on our principles and the level of education we complete.
As a young high school graduate in Pocatello many years ago, I soon realized that getting a good education would be the door to my future. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in school or for a career, but I quickly learned that education opens doors; and more importantly, not choosing a college education would close many more.
For my kids, friends and neighbors — an advanced education is even more important today than it was for me 25 years ago. We need to encourage young people to open as many doors as possible and a college education is one powerful way to do just that. The facts show every dollar spent on education returns many more.
A 2010 Georgetown University study indicates that by 2018 about 25 percent of jobs will require a bachelor’s or graduate degree and another 10 percent will require an associate degree. So, 35 percent of the jobs available in five years will require education beyond high school. Add to this, nearly 56 percent will require a high school diploma and/or some college education. Simple math tells us that 91 percent of the workforce will require high school diplomas or beyond to get work or start careers.
Success also depends on hard work, determination and commitment, but education provides the key foundation. That foundation comes to students taking challenging courses that help develop critical-thinking skills in science, math, technology, communication and writing. Make no mistake, prospective employers recognize this.
The doors that hard work and a good education open have special meaning for me. After a year away from school, I had to work hard to catch up. I attended Idaho State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in general engineering. Taking more difficult courses opened doors to incredible opportunities for me, leading to a Master of Science and then a doctorate of philosophy in nuclear engineering at The University of Michigan. These achievements led to work at Argonne National Laboratory and then completing a Master of Business Administration at the University of Chicago.
Today I serve as INL’s associate laboratory director for Energy and Environment and the director for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, contributing to the nation’s energy and national security priorities. This all happened for me because I chose to take the opportunity that all of us in Idaho have — to get an education.
You may have heard in the media that for every 10 Idaho high school freshmen, eight will graduate and four will enter college, but only one will graduate with a college degree.
High-paying jobs await graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, also referred to as STEM fields. By 2018, Idaho will need to fill 41,000 STEM positions — doors to opportunities for students pursuing a STEM degree.
The doors are ready to be opened. Don’t Fail Idaho!