Unlocking Student Passion: Insights from German Casarez


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Unlocking Student Passion

By: Dr. Joseph Kashiwagi

Discovering one’s passion can be a daunting task for students, especially in an educational system that primarily values traditional subjects like Math, Science, English, and History. However, these subjects may not always align with a student’s true calling or future success. Some students excel outside the classroom, demonstrating remarkable potential if they pursue their passions. It’s crucial to recognize that each child possesses unique talents and abilities, and it’s our role to help them uncover their passions.

So, how do we guide students on this journey of self-discovery?

Observation is key. Simply paying attention to what your child enjoys doing can provide valuable insights. However, the process often involves trial and error. Many parents become disheartened when their children abandon hobbies or become fixated on a single pursuit. Yet, part of discovering passion involves allowing children the freedom to explore different interests and make choices for themselves. Each decision contributes to their growth and the eventual discovery of what truly ignites their enthusiasm.

There are three telltale signs that indicate a student has found their passion:

  1. Intrinsic motivation: They engage in the activity without needing external encouragement.
  2. Enjoyment: They derive genuine pleasure and fulfillment from pursuing their interest.
  3. Proficiency: They demonstrate a natural aptitude or skill in the area. When a student discovers their passion, the impact can be profound. They become enthusiastic learners, absorbing knowledge at an accelerated rate. This transformative experience can be life-changing for students who once felt they lacked proficiency in any area. Suddenly, they find a sense of belonging and purpose.

It’s essential to recognize that passions may evolve over time, and that’s okay. Each pursuit contributes to skill development and personal growth. In today’s world, success can be achieved in a myriad of ways. German Casarez’s story serves as a testament to this truth, highlighting the limitless possibilities when individuals follow their passions.

German Casarez, a sophomore in high school, defies the odds with his passion for welding. Despite his underprivileged background as a migrant from Mexico, German’s dedication to the craft shines through. Inspired by his father, a welder, he earned his entry-level certification and honed his skills at home. Through welding, German discovered his innate talent and embraced it as a part of his identity.

In German’s journey, we witness the essence of leadership: the ability to identify and utilize one’s expertise (passion). His determination not only sets him apart but also inspires others around him. Recognized for his potential within the Mesa Public Schools migrant program, German’s story exemplifies resilience and determination in pursuit of one’s dreams. He joined the VG Program in 2022 and was guided by his coach in pursuing this dream. He has spent countless hours working on this skill.

Looking forward, German aims to become a professional welder and metal artist while maintaining a strong family bond. His journey serves as a beacon of hope, illustrating that with hard work and passion, one can overcome any obstacle and leave a lasting impact on the world.

As parents and educators, let’s empower students to explore, experiment, and embrace their unique talents. By nurturing their passions, we pave the way for a future filled with fulfillment and success.

Valley Guardian Program

The Valley Guardian program is a multiyear coaching program for underserved students in the community. It was created by successful business people in the valley. They got together and formed a non-profit to find ways to fund developmental programs for kids in underserved communities. This program was aimed toward the underserved kids in the valley who have good hearts and have a desire to be successful and be mentored. The kids who are a part of this program have access to all different kinds of services like professional coaches, coaching calls, getaways, leadership education and training workshops, access to professionals in the valley, college and career readiness and more. The Valley Guardian program started with a single school of 6 students, and overtime has grown to 13 schools, 7 districts, and 49 active students. Overall there have been 120 students who have benefited from this program.

The Valley Guardians program offers over thirty online and in person workshops per year. We do many different types of workshops per year including things like arcades, parks, hikes, parties, and online leadership training. Many of the kids who come are not very social and are looking for a place to feel comfortable and be able to meet new people while being themselves. When they come to programs they have a great time. The way we set them up makes kids feel comfortable, whether we ask them what they are interested in doing or set them up to meet new people through social activities at the beginning of each event. The students find they feel connected and accepted through the program.