Self-Improvement of Education Benefits All of Us

Posted September 23, 2004 at 10:57am

When it comes to making the important decision of returning to school, money and career advancements are key benefits that are often promoted by employers and college recruiters. These benefits serve as promising rewards for individuals seeking change. But in my case, I was motivated by self-fulfillment and personal development.

Since being elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992, I’ve earned two graduate degrees. Balancing Congressional duties was not easy, but it has proven to be one of the most rewarding personal accomplishments in my life.

The personal sacrifices and adjustments along the way never competed or conflicted with my pre-existing obligations. My Congressional delegation trips were limited. Social activities were limited. But when it came to pursuing an education, there were few limitations.

When my plane touched down in Chicago, mostly on Friday afternoons, I can still vividly recall dropping my suit bag and picking up my book bag before heading to my classes. While many may have wondered if school was an added strain or responsibility that I didn’t need, the classes quite frankly became oddly therapeutic. The opportunity to enter another world, even if only temporarily, gave me refuge from the common stresses of politics and government while also providing a second wind for another week “at the office.”

By prioritizing, I was able to complete my classes on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Coursework was completed evenings after votes and during any spare time that surfaced.

While pursuing my second master’s degree in seminary at McCormick Theological Seminary, I became more convinced that government alone cannot affect the changes that our nation requires. It takes committed individuals who single-handedly and collectively are willing to keep moving forward, embracing challenges and changes along the way. The struggle and the challenge of new ideas keep one vibrant, vital and visionary, and are pre-requisites for a better world.

After earning my degrees, I firmly believe that continuous personal development is a pre-requisite for realizing self-fulfillment.

Rep. Bobby Rush is a Democrat from Illinois.