How to Make an Impact

If September was the month to back up a few yards and punt, then October was the month to hang on. Even with a week off, I still feel as if life happened in a blur. Perhaps, in fact, that week off was the problem: it took me out of my routine enough that I have played catch-up for the rest of the month. So now I feel as if I am back on track with homeschooling and life…right before the coming holidays (lol).

The days, and indeed, the years, are simply flying by. My husband took our youngest to her first college fair, and all I could do was wonder where time went. If the Lord says the same, we will soon enroll her at the local community college for some transitional learning opportunities. Though hard to believe, we are in our final years of homeschooling. Anyone would think that, having “graduated” two older children, we would cake-walk this road with our youngest. Yet, as the navigation from homeschool to college becomes more sophisticated, we find ourselves attempting to marry what we think we know with the nuances of our third child.

Recently, we sat in on a webinar describing a five-pronged characterization of student profiles, based upon what stands out to Ivy League admissions counselors. Ivy Leagues are not our plan “A”–today–primarily because they do not have the programs she wants–today. It never hurts, however, to listen to what those schools are doing, as they tend to be thought leaders for what other colleges will do later in the effort to progress. Anyway, the seminar was the brainchild of two former Ivy League students who now own an R&D business based upon helping students enter Ivy League schools, where percentages of acceptance are generally low.

Without delving too far into their intellectual property, they spoke of the importance of grades and test scores–no breaking news there. But then they began to talk about an area that would catapult a marginal student in those areas to a place of legitimate competitiveness. They began to talk about the concept of impact. In other words, most college entrants have stellar grades and high SAT and/or ACT scores. Similarly, most of our children have interest(s) that dictate certain extracurricular activities, and having a leadership position is a plus. What helps a student excel above all the premier candidates, according to the workshop leaders, is impact. In other words, what is the student’s passion (over and above his or her varied interests), and how is that passion used to make a difference in the surrounding community?

If you follow me anywhere on social media, you know that our children are creatives, but you might not know that they are also “closet” scientists. Each one has managed to partner a love of his/her artistic bent with a scientific twist. Our youngest has partnered a love of dance with an obsession for good health and sound nutritional choices. So, in marrying her affections for these two areas, we have (hopefully) found a place to make an impact: a seven-acre farm in need of volunteers.


The term “urban food desert” did not exist when I was a college student, but I experienced the symptoms first-hand. A standard grocery store was at least a mile away. The nearby convenience store did not offer much in terms of perishable goods; food that might be wasted was not profitable to the owner. Without a car, I caught cabs and trains, or less frequently, depended on relatives, to get to the grocery store and back, each method having its own inherent problems. I gained the traditional “college 10,” plus another 10, plus another 10, plus…My cholesterol level by the time I graduated was such that I should have been dead, or at least on serious medications.

Today, there is much more attention given to the plight of those who live in urban food deserts. Yet, they are still very much a part of our cities and towns, creating a ripe environment for diabetes, heart disease and obesity due to limited access to nutrient-dense foods. In 2011, approximately 23.5 million people were considered residents of an urban food desert, including 6.5 million children. According to the USDA, this means that a staggering number of families do not live within 1 mile of a traditional grocery store, but instead must buy food from convenience stores, liquor stores, or other nearby venues that generally serve more salt-laden, fatty foods without shelf lives. Compounding the problem is lower quality education and nutritional knowledge, which shape our eating habits and in turn impact our health.

So, even though the would-be dietitian/ nutritionist tells me that her working on an urban farm is like taking a dance teacher to a ballet shoe factory, we serve. Twice monthly, we rise early, work hard, and we give back because of the grace under which we have been given so much. We seek to impact those for whom fresh food is simply too far away. Because if all this homeschooling experience leaves us with is a head full of book knowledge, then we have missed the point.

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6 thoughts on “How to Make an Impact

  1. What a great piece! As a university professor and novice homeschooler, I’m happy to know that admissions offices take into account more than grades and test scores. In the same way that universities and community colleges have more to offer students than academics, potential college students have more to offer than their knowledge. The homeschooling experience offers the perfect opportunity for young people to gain diverse non-academic experiences that they can carry with them them to college to share with their new peers and enhance their academic experience. As an English professor, I can attest that these non-academic experiences will come in handy in the freshman writing classroom because they will give students a store of experiential knowledge on which to draw when writing non-research and non-text based essays. Every time I teach this class, I have students who struggle with such assignments because they have very little from which to mine and develop ideas.

    1. I am glad to see this dynamic play out as well, although I do realize that each school has its own criteria and philosophy regarding the weight of grades and test scores vs the intangibles. Let us hope that more schools catch onto what you are saying about the total person and non-academic experiences being of value as well. Thank you for the visit, Dr. Hudler.

  2. I just realized that I forgot to mention in my previous comment that I love the similarities between your daughter’s ballet pose and her stance in the other picture. She must be graceful in everything she does!

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