Motivational speaker and educational advocate Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, who grew up in a poor family on the Mexican border, told students at Wood River High School last week to fulfill their dreams by staying in school.
"To be educated is to be free," Kickbusch said.
Kickbusch is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who tours the nation giving talks on overcoming adversity and on family leadership. Kickbusch appeared at the invitation of the Lee Pesky Learning Center for its College Aspirations Program.
"It is the dream of Alan Pesky that every student in Idaho have an opportunity for higher education," said the Center's executive director, David Holmes, when introducing Kickbusch.
Kickbusch addressed a full auditorium of students and guests on Wednesday. She spoke about her childhood and growing up in Laredo, Texas, and how her father was her hero even though he could not speak "American."
"My father and mother worked and worked," Kickbusch said. "My father would say, 'Hija, don't abandon school. Look how I suffer. Go to school.'"
Kickbusch said that as a young girl living in a Mexican household, she always wanted to go to America, and not until she was much older did she understand that she was American and what was meant by the "American Dream." As Kickbusch described her life as a teenager, she engaged students by bringing them to the front of the audience and giving examples of overcoming adversity. She gave gifts to the students who participated in her talk.
"Anyone can build a house, but it takes a family to make a home," Kickbusch said when she described her family life, which included living with 10 brothers and having aluminum foil for windows. Several tears flowed down her face as she talked about the realities of being poor and finding strength through education.
Kickbusch said her proudest moment was giving her father a ride in the first car she bought.
"I work with kids no one believes in," Kickbusch said. "I wrote my book, 'Journey to the Future: A Roadmap for Success for Youth,' to help kids understand their way."
Kickbusch spent the day in the valley and also spoke at the Community Library in Ketchum in the evening.
She has worked with over one million children and their parents across the nation and created the Family Leadership Institute, an education program focused on providing parents with the knowledge, tools and inspiration to help their children succeed in school and life.
"Be a best friend to yourself," Kickbusch said. "Find a calling, don't just get a job."
Sabina Dana Plasse: firstname.lastname@example.org