I Believe in Broken-Heartedness, by Jaque Reyes

I believe in broken-heartedness.

Before 2015, those words would have never come out of my mouth. Back then I believed in the power of ‘music’, ‘opera’, ‘traveling the world’, being a ‘superstar’, ‘singleness’, and most importantly, never having children. I wanted to make my parents proud and make a name for myself. I was a sophomore in college with a perfect GPA and a promising future. I had never had a boyfriend or even considered it.

However, I met a boy in 2015. He rapidly became my best friend and I was head over heels for him. I quickly fell in love and my whole life revolved around him. Unfortunately, he started pressuring me to do things I did not want to do. I had never kissed a boy before, let alone do anything else with a man. I was so shy and innocent, yet, I was so in love. I did not want to disappoint him. He promised to love me and never leave me. But then…

I became pregnant.

I hope whoever is reading this can imagine how this affected my life.  My opera-career? My family’s expectations? My perfect life?  It was all gone. I went from being a college virgin, to possibly a pregnant drop-out. At least my boyfriend was a source of comfort and shoulder to cry on. But then? He left me too.  I remember arguing with him once, and a few weeks later he called to ask me something. He wanted me to meet his new girlfriend. He wanted us to “all get along and support each other.” BS! I do not want to explain what this did to me and my psyche. I will never have the words to explain how second-hand and worthless I felt. Being broken-hearted was an understatement. I was lucky enough to get through the next hour, let alone the next day. The man I so deeply loved abandoned me for another woman, only to get her pregnant, stick by her side, and then make me watch every moment of it too.

However, all of this molded me to be who I am today: “Jaque.” The girl who is a single mother, transferred schools and is a full-time student again, has a job, a 4.0 GPA, is pursuing her dreams, and so much more. Having a baby did not rob me of any of that. Heck, I am much more accomplished now than I was back then! Being broken-hearted did not make me a damaged good. It simply woke me up. It brought true meaning and perspective to my life. Furthermore, it also taught me what true forgiveness looks like. Forgiving my ex and his girlfriend was no easy task, but it is an everyday choice I continue to make. Also, because I know what feeling deeply depressed feels like, every day that I am not depressed feels like heaven!  Things were truly put into perspective.  Broken-heartedness gave me all of that and more. I would not trade it for the world.


This essay was written for Dr. Elizabeth Flowers’ World Religions in America course.  You can read more about the TCU Religion Department here

I Believe in Doing the Right Thing, by Owen Roche

I believe in doing the right thing. Often times, it is a lot harder to do the right thing rather than doing something else or nothing at all. This reigns true for almost any scenario, from holding the door open for someone to forgiving others for their mistakes. As a young child, this concept of always trying to do the right thing was simply a lesson my parents tried to teach me, an idea that seemed to fly over my head. This changed, however, when my world was flipped upside down.

I was 10 years old when my father told me he was being deployed to Iraq as part of his military service. Devastation, confusion, and sadness swept over me. I was feeling sorry for not only myself, but my mother and sister as well, because I knew how hard the following 14 months were going to be. My sister and I both played multiple sports, hockey and baseball for myself, lacrosse and swimming for her. As I said, I was 10 years old, and she was 8. It was going to be an absolute nightmare for my mother to even attempt to drive us to each and every practice and game, making sure we each had three meals every day. This, along with making sure we were performing well in school, proved to be quite the burden early on.

The first day after my father left, my mother had to take me to baseball, drop me off, take my sister to lacrosse, pick me up, pick my sister up, and finally take us home. On the way home, our car got a flat tire, and that night I sat awake in my bed, listening to my mother weep alone in her room.

It appeared that this stretch was going to be tougher than we thought. That is, until the community we lived in stepped in. Families of teammates for both our teams began to offer rides to and from practices and games. Neighbors would make amazing dinners and bring it over for us to enjoy. Friends would invite my sister and I over to spend the night, giving my mother some much needed nights off. Why were all these people doing this for us? Wasn’t driving out of their way to pick me up a huge inconvenience? Why were they cooking us dinner and not cooking for themselves?

It was because it was the right thing to do.

These families knew the challenge we were facing and stopped at nothing to help. It would have been so easy for them to just turn a blind eye to us. To this day, my family and I are indebted to these people for their graciousness and generosity. Their actions also made a lasting impression on a pair of young kids. To this day, I always strive and will continue to strive to do the right thing, regardless of the difficulty or inconvenience it presents.


This essay was written for Dr. Elizabeth Flowers’ World Religions in America course.  You can read more about the TCU Religion Department here


I Believe in the Unity of the Heart and Mind, by Shriya Sachdeva

One of the greatest things I struggled with last year was deciding what major I wanted when applying for college. I was aware that people change their major all the time, but I still wanted to have some sort of goal to ground myself on. I think the bigger question I had was: What do I want to do with my life?

Almost every individual has their eyes set on a dream career, and I began panicking as I couldn’t figure out which of my passions I wanted to pursue, or if there was something else altogether. My life can be summed up in four words: singing, reading, writing, and healing. I didn’t yet know which one was something I loved enough to dedicate my life to.

One day, I approached a teacher with my doubts, and the line she said became the motto of my life: “Draw a line from your heart and draw another line from your mind; where these two intersect lies your occupation.”

Her words gave me some thinking to do.

When I broke it down, I realized that while I love writing, I need the correct emotional stance to be able to pour out my feelings into words. For me, this doesn’t happen very often, because my writing can’t be forced. As for singing, I love giving not-so-secret concerts in the shower, but doing it at a professional level just isn’t for me. I don’t want my voice to represent me; I want all of me to be put into doing what I love. That leaves medicine.

At first, I was discouraged about becoming a practitioner because it takes so long and requires so much effort. I came to realize that this hard work is only worth it if there is a love and passion for this field. I feel like I have the intellectual ability that is needed to pursue medical school. I have always found science interesting, especially biology and anatomy/physiology (the health sciences). I do find it difficult, but the thrill of understanding how a body works is ineffable. I also care a lot about others and want to serve people. I feel happy when I help others heal. Isn’t that incentive enough?

As I have said before, I believe in love: love for life, love for a career, and love for other people, too. I believe that love is what holds this entire world together, and this is why I want to be a physician: to love humanity, and to heal.

While a career isn’t everything, it is a major part of life, and through the quest of finding myself, I have understood the nuances of loving life. I have found meaning in the aphorism “Follow your heart, but take your mind with you”, because in life, the act of thinking and using one’s common sense is the antidote to the blind spots of a heart still learning to love.

This I believe with all my heart- and mind.


This essay was written for Dr. Elizabeth Flowers’ World Religions in America course.  You can read more about the TCU Religion Department here

The Great Outdoors, by Charlotte Sutherland

I believe in the power of the outdoors. As a child, I was raised in a somewhat unconventional way. I went to a Waldorf school. Waldorf is a school of thought that emphasizes play, art, and music rather than media and tests as ways of learning. The school discourages television and movies from children’s lives. Because of that, I spent my childhood outside.

No matter how hot or how cold, I was in my backyard or on my bike with the wind in my hair. I loved every minute of my childhood. My relationship with the outdoors is still a huge part of who I am today. I have gained so many skills that very few people have in the twenty first century: I can build a fire with a magnifying glass, I can look up at the stars and see dozens of constellations, I can make jewelry out of plants and makeup out of smashed rocks. These skills were not obtained by watching Man vs. Wild or studying them from a textbook. I learned them because this is how I played. From when I woke up in the morning to when my mom rang the dinner bell, I was knee deep in our local creek or at the top of one of the great cotton woods that grew in my yard.

While at times I felt like a freak, looking back I would not change a thing. There were moments when someone would reference Sponge Bob or Scooby Doo and I would feel like an outcast. Every summer we traveled to our family beach house in Hull, Massachusetts, and my cousins would sit down and watch cartoons. If my parents caught me partaking, they would turn off the TV and send me outside. My extended family still teases me about that to this day, but while they were glued to the TV, I was out on the beach building fairy houses in the sand.

I am a more centered, level headed adult because the outdoors made me a carefree, happy child. To this day, I do my best thinking outside in the fresh air. The outdoors has shaped not only my present but also my future. I hate cities, and I know that I will raise my children in a small rural town. I will marry a man who fishes and hunts, and we will have a small garden in our backyard. My children will not be those kids at restaurants who sit with their faces in their iPads nor will they be those kids whose t-shirts are covered in obnoxious graphics of cartoons or animated movie characters.

I credit my character and my confidence to the outdoors. I know that no matter how tough life can get, I will be ok because all I have to do is step outside.

I Believe in One, by Maci Slocum

This summer, TCU College of Education professors Steve Pryzmus and Michael Faggella-Luby had students write This I Believe Essays at the beginning and end of their course studying Exceptional Children and Youth at Risk.   The next postings will feature the students’ final essays. 

After four weeks of class, my thoughts have stayed relatively similar; however, now there is a reason behind my beliefs and a few additional beliefs to add to it. This semester we have learned a lot about monolinguals, bilinguals, multi-linguals and those with disabilities and how to incorporate everyone in a classroom. I still believe in being one.  However, instead of being just one student body, I believe in being individuals within one student body. For example, as a science teacher, I can allow my students to speak in their L1, and allow students to answer translingually as long as they understand the content. Another example could be doing activities through group work and allowing students to work together in order to gain social skills and get to know one another both at an academic level and also a social level. Doing this, will promote a welcoming classroom where we will not only learn the content, but we will also be learning about different languages and cultures without realizing it. In addition to this one multicultural classroom, I also see the importance of including those with disabilities in my classroom. Having this idea of being one in my classroom is open for all. This idea of being one class, one student body and one community allows for students from all cultures, disabilities and backgrounds to come together as one. Using the student’s differences, as well as the faculty’s differences, we can learn about everybody. This will provide students and staff members a new kind of insight and allow faculty members a chance to truly know their students, and students to truly know their faculty members.  Having this kind of school environment will allow the students that are typically not included in the extracurricular or group activities, to bring their strengths to the table and not be judged for being different. Having those kind of relationships between faculty and students will allow for a more welcoming school and classroom for ALL students.   I believe in one… one – student body, one human race, and one nation. I believe being one allows for people of all different cultures, races, learning styles and disabilities to show what they are capable of, and bring those skills together to make one special place open to everyone.

This I Believe, by Shelby Dombroski

This summer, TCU College of Education professors Steve Pryzmus and Michael Faggella-Luby had students write This I Believe Essays at the beginning and end of their course studying Exceptional Children and Youth at Risk.   The next postings will feature the students’ final essays. 

I didn’t believe that my thoughts on special population students could had changed any but when I truly evaluated my thoughts and beliefs, I had realized they had.  I believe that all students are important and needed to be valued in the classroom no matter what concern, language proficiency, or disability they bring to the table. They are all able to be funds of knowledge on some point or experience. I have also added, when it comes to language how ca I use different forms of translanguaging into my classroom to better benefit my students. I myself need to be able to adapt and be encouraging to all types of languaging in my classroom. This brings me to my original point that I had at the start of the class. I believe the education of students’ at-risk needs to hold a high importance to all educators and leaders of education. Education leaders such as campus administrators should model positive relationships with faculty and families. Then the idea of supports will trickle down to the classroom teachers.  The foundation of a student’s education lies in the arms of their teachers. We can all remember the teacher or teachers that changed our life or view of a subject, and all those teachers have in common is their ability to drive each individual student to the best they can be.  Each teacher had a way to motivate, empathize, relate, and connect to us as students, to help each and everyone one of us grow. We need more game-changing educators to help motivate and relate of all our students who are given the at-risk label.  I believe we need educators who are willing to cause change and help each and every student to their own personally level of success. Each teacher needs to find new and innovative ways to present the content but also be able to relate it to the lives of the students sitting in their own classroom. I believe that every student with the at-risk label has the chance to succeed in their own individual goals for life, especially when they have an educator that drives them towards that goal. No matter what makes a student at-risk one of the key aspects to remember is that those students spend most of their day in a classroom, what kind of educator do you want to be? I believe we as educators can all be one of those teachers you remember in the future, if we just use different tools and ideas to help connect, relate, empathize, and motivate our students understand the core content that will later help drive their own future.

This I Believe, by Kyle Wilson

This summer, TCU College of Education professors Steve Pryzmus and Michael Faggella-Luby had students write This I Believe Essays at the beginning and end of their course studying Exceptional Children and Youth at Risk.   The next postings will feature the students’ final essays. 

After several weeks of studying exceptional students and youth at-risk, I realize that my beliefs and attitudes about these students have changed. In particular, I have come to realize through class and also through my observations at Eastern Hills High School that I had access to many resources and opportunities that many American students do not. I attended a predominantly white middle – class high school in a suburban area. As a result, until a few weeks ago I had seldom if ever heard the term “Emergent Bi-lingual,” for instance. Thus, I have not had to wrestle with many of the  same issues facing inner city students today, such as speaking different languages at school and at home. It is rather unfortunate that people such as myself often do not think much about students and families whose social or educational situation differs drastically from their own. Moreover, I do not think that I have been forced to experience marginalization to the same degree that some students have, such as students with Autism Spectrum disorders. Therefore, I am unfortunately not an expert on these complex issues, although my knowledge of these issues has widened. However, I still believe that students should not need to be defined by their backgrounds, however traumatic or unpleasant they may have been. Rather, their early life, both inside and outside of the classroom, is a time for personal reflection and self – discovery. Teachers should help students realize their desires in life, such as their occupation, and empower them. Nevertheless, I realize that lack of motivation is a serious issue in most American high schools. Special dedication is needed on the part of teachers to overcome this problem. At the same time, I think that it is very important for teachers to encourage students to discover what they truly believe. However, given that opinions can differ, especially on controversial topics, there do need to be certain boundaries. I hope that a sense of respect and civility can be maintained. As a result, I realize that teachers need to treat this issue with due sensitivity. Nevertheless, many students surely feel that they do not have a voice. On the contrary, I believe all students’ voices are worthy of hearing if they contribute to the class in a meaningful way. As a consequence, I have come to believe more clearly that every teacher – provided that he/she has the requisite training, knowledge, and experience – can positively impact students from exceptional backgrounds. Lastly, I should add that I am awaiting my student teaching experience this fall. To be truthful, I am mildly nervous, given my lack of experience in the classroom. Yet I hope it will better allow me to determine my long-term career and vocational goals.

This I Belive, by David Sietmann

Wise men have spoken for centuries about the things that one is guaranteed to encounter in life. From taxes to love, progress to ignorance, a multitude of things have been the objects of certainty in the minds of great thinkers. Nothing in life besides “X” is guaranteed. This claim seems to me, a semi-educated college undergrad, not well founded as they have been hailed. I talked to at least seven people in my lifetime and they all seem to have vastly different life experiences encompassing a wide array of activities most of which are not overlapping. To say that something is guaranteed to happen to everyone seems folly. Everyone should live their lives as they see fit, free from the imposed boundaries and expectations of others.

When I was the ripe age of twelve I had a presentation on the Greek god Pan. As a twelve-year old I had a chili bowl haircut, these jimmy neutron glasses that were just the worst and just about the most horrible set of teeth imaginable. As one could guess I wasn’t the most confident child on the earth. I gave my presentation and proceeded to stammer and mumble and stammer my way through the entire thing.  It was horrible. My teacher laughed me out of the room and suggested that I get good at math because pretty much anything else requires talking to people which I have proven to be deficient at. This was concerning news to me as I was bad at math and still am to this day. I took inventory when I got home and thought “What if I could just be confident and annunciate my words well? That would sure make life more bearable.” So that’s exactly what I did. I spent the next five years of my life working on public speaking and other assorted skills that would make social interactions more bearable. To this day I get extremely nervous whenever I must speak to the public but it never shows. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything and my life is much better for it. No one is really a stranger to me anymore. If anything, I’ve become too social.

Everyone has a real choice as to what they want to become and what they want to do with their lives. There is no rule forbidding people from changing. If someone really wants to make their lives different there is no reason they can feasibly do it. To let others dictate how one operates is about as silly as wearing jimmy neutron glasses during a sixth-grade presentation. I believe in self rooted change for the better and the power to morph oneself into anything they see fit. No one should be forced to get good at math.


Howdy! My name is David SieDavid Sietmanntmann and I am a junior Finance major. I just transferred to TCU this semester and I gotta say this place is pretty great. Shoutout to my step-brother Forrest Broyles. Go Frogs, Rush FIJI! 


This I Believe, by Sabine Cijsouw

I believe that teaching students is the most beautiful job ever. It is a collaboration between you being a teacher and getting the opportunity to learn others new things and you being a student towards your own students by learning how their perception of the world looks like and how to interact with them.

Teaching your students as individuals can be hard sometimes. You need to meet their needs in a way that will benefit them. Without doing that, they will not be able to get into the whole process of learning. People with disabilities can have a hard time with finding their way to get into the process of learning. You as a teacher get the opportunity to help a student with a disability to find that way. I believe that if you teach students, you need to know what kinds of disabilities can influence a student’s learning process and what those disabilities may contain. If you know typical symptoms or behaviors, you can use strategies that apply to those symptoms or behaviors to make the ability to learn easier for your students. I believe that it can be hard for teachers to distinguish the disabilities because there are a lot of disabilities with the same symptoms. Teachers should be able to get an extra course or training from the school where they work to know more about disabilities and how these disabilities affect students and their learning process. The whole school and all teachers will be more prepared to teach students with disabilities. This will make the school system also a lot easier and will create a safe and healthy environment for everybody. I believe that if teachers are not prepared, they can encounter difficulties with not only the students with a disability but with the whole class.  When the disability of a student has too much influence on the student’s ability to learn, then the school should look for a school with an environment that fits the student better. I understand that a lot of parents want that their child goes to a ‘normal’ school, but if the environment does not meet the needs of the child it will only withhold the student. I believe that a teacher should be able to analyze if the school benefits the student with a disability. When the teacher knows how to meet the needs of the students with disabilities, a healthy learning environment will be created.…………………………………………………………

S Cijsouw Photo

Hi everyone!  My name is Sabine Esmée Cijsouw, and I am 23 years old. I am an international student from the Netherlands. I study at the College of Education to become a Primary Teacher. I got the opportunity to study abroad for my major. I am always curious about other cultures, open to new experiences and I am mainly seeking to develop myself into a better version of me. As a teacher, I want to be able to tell my students more about the world and get them ready to spread their wings.

Motherly and Fatherly Love, by Derrick Mokaleng

My parents always motivated me to work hard in everything I did, whether it was my schooling or sporting career. We didn’t have a lot of money to live a comfortable life, so this motivated me to work hard to have a better life and brighter future. I believe in the motivation my parents instilled in me.

One of the most important times my parents motivated me was when I had the opportunity to run for student representative council of my high school. I am a very shy person and was nervous about having to speak in front of the whole school. My parents heard about this great opportunity and immediately encouraged me to enter the election. They knew that I was an introvert and very shy. However, in the days leading up to the election, they reminded me of the leadership skills I displayed at home and how my creativity would benefit the school. Thanks to their support, I ended up becoming vice president of the council, which was a turning point in my life.

The most recent and inspirational motivation that my parents gave me was when I was planning to come and study in the USA. They knew that I wanted to study abroad before the end of high school. So, they made such that I had the proper support needed for the dream to become a reality. I especially remember how my mom would always encourage me to work extra hard in my academics, so that I would get credited and accepted to TCU. My dad was the inspiration for my getting into track and field at a young age. He would make time to come and watch me compete. The motivation he constantly gave me to give it my all and strive to be the best I could, helped me become the student-athlete I am today.

This brings me to what I believe. I believe in the special love that my parents have for me. I believe that my parents are my refuge, where I can go for help at any time. They motivated and gave me good advice which resulted in my being elected as vice president of my school council, which gave me much needed confidence. Even though it was tough for them to accept, I received my parents’ unconditional love and support on my dream to study in the USA.


IAAF World Junior Championships: Day 2Derrick Mokaleng is a 19- year- old student from South Africa.  His parents, Jane and Tsepho, are his daily inspiration.  Even though he shares his parents with his twin sister, they have always loved and motivated them both to achieve their goals and to believe in themselves.