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Charlene Chambliss

Charlene Chambliss, '17

Finding the "why"

As soon as I mentioned that I was a psychology major, Maria began excitedly peppering me with questions about the cultural psychology of South Korea, a culture she had come to be fascinated with through her love of K-pop and other Korean music.

Time flew as I explained what I knew about how cultural norms develop differently in different societies, and I enthusiastically introduced her to many of my favorite methods for exploring a new subject online and by getting cheap used books through Amazon. When time came for me to go back to campus, I didn't want to leave—helping empower Maria to feed her curiosity had easily been the most fulfilling thing I'd done all week.

I noticed that many of the students I worked with at Sequoia High School seemed to be "going through the motions" of their classes, following the path that they've been put on without a strong sense of purpose. At their age, I had often felt the same way—I had been taught to do well because it would pay off later.

These students do want help with their homework, but what they really want is a reason to get excited about learning, a reason beyond "college and a good job" that speaks to their hopes and dreams for the future, and what kind of person they want to become.

These youth are impressive—independent, resourceful, and willing to work hard. They've got a handle on the "how." Now, all they need is their "why." 

Charlene Chambliss, '17, was a student leader for the Haas Center’s High School Support Initiative, a program through which Stanford students serve as tutor-mentors for high school students from historically marginalized communities.
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