Column: Education and the pursuit of freedom

July 1, 2020

Dr. Robert Garza

On July 4, 1776, delegates from 13 British colonies signed the Declaration of Independence as a pronouncement that the colonies were united and independent from British rule. On that day 224 years ago, the Continental Army still had a long war ahead of them – more than seven years – before Britain would concede defeat and recognize the sovereignty of the United States.

Though our nation celebrates freedom on July 4, that date marks the mere beginning of a journey to define what freedom looks like in our great nation – a journey that continues today.

This year presents an opportunity for national self-reflection. As we spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, watch the unrest across our country in response to systemic racism, and prepare to head to the polls this November, our response is pivotal to the future of our communities and nation as a whole.

Our democracy was built on the premise that people in this nation knew what was needed from their government. An education system that creates knowledgeable, socially engaged citizens is at the core of democracy, and it is as important today as it has ever been as we evaluate the complex realities around us.

Over the past 35 years, Palo Alto College has remained committed to providing access to quality education in order to empower our community for leadership and success. The process of obtaining a degree or certificate carries the promise of learning, personal advancement, and upward mobility; but it also develops virtue and character which empowers individuals to be catalysts for change in their communities and ultimately impact society as a whole.

Though this moment in history is difficult, we are presented with the opportunity to embrace the challenge and seize our purpose. We have the freedom to educate ourselves, so that we may empower others to do the same. Palo Alto College looks forward to continuing to come alongside our community to shape a brighter future together.

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and