If you could receive one wish to be granted, what would you choose?
The Make-A-Wish® Foundation of North Texas grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. Children choose from four different types of wishes: “I wish to be,” “I wish to go,” “I wish to have,” and “I wish to meet.” Typical wishes include going to Walt Disney World® Resort, meeting a celebrity, or receiving a brand new computer, so children have all options available to them.
Six-year-old Cindy of Dallas, Texas, wished to become an art teacher. Cindy, a quiet girl with curly hair and watchful eyes, loves to draw and to paint. Cindy’s social worker at the hospital where she is currently being treated connected her with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
In order to become a teacher, Cindy needed a college degree. The Make-A-Wish Foundation notified American College of Education, an online school that provides degree programs especially for teachers, about the wish, and the school agreed to host a full commencement ceremony for Cindy, complete with members of its faculty and staff to celebrate her.
American College of Education was pleased to award six-year-old Cindy of Dallas, Texas, an Honorary Master of Art Elements degree at a special commencement ceremony just for her on July 11, 2014, at the Make-A-Wish Foundation headquarters in Irving, Texas. Cindy, her family, and her best friend enjoyed a special day with a trip to a local little girl’s salon and a restaurant before arriving at the Make-A-Wish Foundation headquarters for her commencement ceremony. American College of Education hosted the event with the same details as a typical commencement ceremony, including a professional singer to perform the National Anthem, conferring an official honorary degree, and posing for commencement pictures.
Cindy grinned shyly as she walked into the room decorated with pink streamers and a Disney princess theme, wearing her very own blue cap and gown and a brand new dress. She walked into a room filled with stacks of art supply gifts purchased by staff members, as well as cupcakes and a popcorn machine. Make-A-Wish sponsors are invited to provide their own unique touch, and American College of Education staff members sought to make the event a beautiful realization of her greatest wish.
“She was very excited. She did not know this was going to be such an amazing experience and such a beautiful presentation,” said Cindy’s mother, Maria. An interpreter shared the events of the ceremony with her family members, who are Spanish speakers, and local television stations Telemundo, Univision, and NBC covered the event. In addition, the Irving Rambler also published an article covering the event.
College leadership and other attendees were reminded of the powerful influence that Cindy’s own teachers have in her life. The teachers Cindy encounters each day have set an example for her, have inspired her, and have helped awaken her interest in the arts. Speakers at the event echoed these observations.
“I think the most important thing for our graduates to remember is the impact they have on students,” said American College of Education Provost Shawntel Landry, Ed.D. “When a student wants to be you and they want to be a teacher, it’s very powerful. Everything you do, every move you make is being watched by those students, and they emulate it.”
“Any prospective teacher or practicing teacher who has witnessed part of this event should never doubt the impact and the influence that he or she can have on a child’s life,” said Dr. Kenneth Craycraft, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at American College of Education.
As the final piece of her wish, Cindy will use her degree this December to take charge of her very own art classroom, which provides unique joys and challenges for seasoned teachers. Because art teachers need to be both passionate about their subject and passionate about reaching students, Cindy was encouraged to remember that she is there to serve her students and help them to become artists as much as she is to enjoy art for herself. Throughout her commencement address, she was reminded to embrace mistakes as part of the creative process, advocate for the arts in her school community, help her students to develop independence and creativity, and remember that, in the words of Pablo Picasso, “Art washes away the dust of everyday lives.”
Thank you to all teachers who make the lives of your students a little brighter and a little more colorful each day!
For more information about the Make-A-Wish® Foundation of North Texas, please visit http://ntx.wish.org/about-us. Please also visit www.ace.edu to learn more about American College of Education’s master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs for teachers.
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American College of Education