November 20, 2012
I am a product of the Dust Bowl generation chronicled in John Steinbeck's book Grapes of Wrath. My parents were farmers from Oklahoma, who had been devastated by the drought and dust storms in the Midwest. We arrived in Bakersfield, California in 1938. I was 10 years old, the eldest of 3 children. We, the whole family, became migrant workers. We picked cotton, cut grapes, and picked fruit. The work was all piece work, which meant that what the children cut or picked added to the total income. My parents, being the children of farmers, were allowed to attend school, when there weren't crops to harvest or chores to be done. My father had about 3 years of elementary education. My mother did complete the 8th grade, which was as far as the one room prairie schools offered. Thus, they had no background to guide me about going to college. Not knowing what I wanted to do or become, I enrolled in the local Junior College, as this level was then called. I took vocational courses for almost 2 years. I planned to get my AA, get out, and get a job. One day, when I was in the library, May Louise Jones, the Librarian, and the wife of my favorite teacher, said "Knox, you should continue your education and get a 4 year degree". My reply was "Mrs. Jones, that would take another year or two of academic classes to get the required courses" Her response was "Time is going to pass whether you are in school or not". As simple as that statement was it convinced me that she was right. UCLA, was where my favorite teacher, Mr. Jones. had attended. In the fall of 1949 I had the number and required courses to transfer to UCLA as a junior in business administration. I graduated in June of 1951. I can say, without hesitation, that had I not had 3 and 1/2 years to "find myself" in a community college, I would never earned a 4 year degree. Much credit also goes to inspirational teachers like Mr. and Mrs. Jones, and many others like them who have a MAJOR IMPACT on the lives of first generational college students like me. My sister and brother also attended BJC. My sister graduated from San Diego State, now SDSU. My brother went even further, earned his Phd in Education at USC, and spent the last 17 years as a superintendent of schools in the Taft and Bakersfield area. We all agree, that this could never have happened had it not been for the community college experience! It is for these reasons, and many more, that I am proud to be a member of The MiraCosta College Foundation Board! Linda Fogerson, is our Executive Director. She had done an excellent job of building a great group of men and women as board members, and through them and her personal and staff efforts has increased the annual donations to the foundation by more than 3 Xs what it was when she took the position about 6 years ago. It is a joy and a privilege to work with her, her staff and the board members in our goals to provide scholarships and work towards the success of the students! Knox Williams
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MY ROLE:Board Member