The Journey Is The Reward

Raul : August 22, 2013 1:54 am : Blog

Erik Burgos World Changer

Erik Burgos
World Changer

The Journey Is The Reward

By Erik Burgos

I just finished a conversation with a friend on the phone that really got me to solidify my conviction for the idea of joy and fulfillment. I am not going to write a novel about my reflections on this. I wish to simply throw my idea out there and you decide to throw it back and forth.

In simplest terms: The Journey is the reward. 

We grow up in societal constructs that allow us to create milestones for ourselves, or “points” in our lives where we can stop and celebrate our accomplishments or blessings. I challenge this notion and say that it is not these points in our lives wherein we are given a piece of paper or metal or fancy plexy glass that we should feel most fulfilled. I would say it is the journey, the process and the story we created for ourselves to get there that is most noteworthy. After all, that is what living is! The blood, sweat and tears that you had to sacrifice to mold you into the citizen of the universe you are today. That is more valuable. That is what builds character. That is what builds your destiny. We overlook the journey in reaching our goals; when we meet them, we are happy momentarily but are quickly turned around by our own expectations to do more and more…we become slaves to achievement, riches and glory.

As a child, I remember being asked to connect the dots in some learning exercises. In hindsight, it wasn’t about the dots themselves that made the experience special. They were already there, pre-printed in its stale glory. It was the unique lines and paths I drew to connect the dots that made it special. In my experience, I have had to connect the dots life has dealt me with my own path, with the noticeable difference that this time the dots were not numbered and there is no set of rules to dictate how the points should be connected. As I look back to the drawn path, my life, it is not clear what it will become. All I know is that I must never stop this beautiful journey; it is the reward and heaven in disguise.

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Driving Dreams

Raul : October 8, 2012 4:28 am : Blog

#1This past month, I had the privilege of speaking to over 9,000 Irving ISD students, helped announce $30,000 in scholarships, $21,000 in contest prizes and $35,000 to purchase two Ford Explorers for student transportation. The impact Ford Motor Company is making on these students through “Ford Driving Dreams” can hardly be measured by these numbers. The biggest takeaway was how much we learned and were inspired by the stories of courage students of Irving ISD shared with us.

My hope is that our students become the best they can be. Each of them has it within themselves to be GREAT, but they must persevere through adversity to find it. It is without a doubt that education is the greatest weapon we have to fight against poverty in our community. I can attest to this because I have LIVED it. For those of us that have “made it” and defeated all the odds, make it a priority to help bring others with us! The objective with my empowerment speech with the students was not to get them excited about school and then leave for the day. I forewarned them at the beginning of my time on stage that I was not there to inspire them. My hope is that I was able to empower them to stand on their own with an unshakeable sense of identity. In one component of the presentation, I used a can as a metaphor for the labels we are given throughout life. We must determine our label before others do.

Here are a few things students shared with me from our recent experience:

Elita, Nimitz High School

So today you went to Nimitz and honestly your speech got to me. It was very emotional! I can say that my story is like yours. I go to school and work at night, but I will graduate and prove my family wrong! … Today I realize that I can go very far by just believing in myself and I don’t need anyone to tell me what I am! … The moment you were talking and you put your hand on the kid’s shoulder who was sitting in front of me, I felt the power of your speech that I let some tears out! To be honest, I thank you, the school and God for the speech you gave us today! You have changed the way I think. Thank you and may God bless you (:

Lesly, MacArthur High School

Hey Raul, thank you for coming to MacArthur the other day. Your story was amazing. I came home and told my mom all about it and told my mom today is the day I am turning my life around, because if Raul did it, so can I. I won’t give u.  I am not a quitter.  I was the one screaming a lot because it was just so amazing. I cried during your story. Thank you so much for coming … I would like to see you on the graduation day when I walk across the stage.  My sister always told me I won’t graduate, I won’t be nothing in life, but I’m going to prove her wrong and show her and everyone else who doesn’t believe in me I am going to make it. Thank you for making a change in my life, Raul  (:

Fatima, Jack E. Singley Academy

Mr. Magdaleno,

I am a student from Jack E. Singley Academy and today we saw the amazing speech you gave at Macarthur high school. Even hours after seeing that video, I’m still amazed on how you escalated in life and even though people put you down you became such an inspirational person for so many people. I believe that it has made us realize a lot of things, especially for me. I want to thank you for your speech and for the extraordinary things you have done for people … Thank you again, for making such a big impact in such little time. I believe that every student, after have heard your speech will NEVER quit.

Fatima, MacArthur High School

Thank you Raul for opening my eyes. When you came to MacArthur you inspired me to do better. At first I thought, “Well whatever, I’ll just finish high school and hope for the best. ” But now, it’s more than just that … I want to be someone in life, and you’ve made me realize that you have to work hard in order for it to happen, so thank you. You’ve shown me that it’s not okay to let people label me into being a housekeeper, McDonald’s employee, or even a homeless woman. I will be the first in my family to graduate from high school and go onto college. Thanks Raul, it was a pleasure meeting you. It was an honor shaking your hand too. You have NO idea how many kids’ lives you just changed and how many minds thought differently about life after that ONE assembly … I want to make my mom proud just like you made yours. I too was embarrassed of my mom, but you opened up my eyes. My mom too has to work at Wendy’s from 5 pm until 3am. She too, sacrifices herself for the education of my sisters and I. You’re now a true role model for me … If you read this thank you, I just had to let you know that, yes, you DID change the way I look at things now and that I’m grateful that someone like you actually came to MacArthur and even made me tear a little bit. When you talked about your mom, it just touched my heart in a way that I can’t even understand. I cried, but it was a good thing. So thank you, and just hope you do remember me, that girl that was screaming your name in lunch and that had that special honor of even talking to you. I WON”T QUIT! Thanks. (:


Ford Driving Dreams promotes on-time graduation and provides the incentives and tools for Irving ISD high school students to accomplish this goal. The students were asked to write an essay on “What Drives Your Dream?” The top three entries from each high school will win prizes as well as get an opportunity to showcase their idea via a national online voting competition as a finalist from each of the five high schools. Each of these finalists will win an Apple MacBook Pro along with a flip camera to create their competing video. Beginning November 30, the finalist videos will be published online for the world to vote on as their favorite. The grand prize winner will win a scholarship of $5,000 as well as $3,000 that can be used toward a school organization of their choice.

My Irving ISD students, the essay contest deadline (October 19th) is fast approaching!

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My Purpose

Raul : September 4, 2012 2:53 am : Blog

On February 5,2012, it had marked a year of pain, hurt and disappointments by people that I thought loved me … How could this happen to me? Why me? On my birthday, God spoke to me and said, “You will discover your purpose, in your pain.” It was then that I understood that my purpose in life is to serve the hurting, the neglected, the wounded and the forgotten. My purpose is to use the platform that has been given to me to help others. God I thank you for not allowing my pain to abort my purpose. I am ready and willing!

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After Six Wonderful Years

Raul : August 16, 2012 11:00 pm : Blog

After six wonderful years at SMU it is with a heavy heart that I resign from my current postion effective August 6th, to pursue other endeavors that I will announce publicly in late August. To all my friends and colleagues, I thank you for standing with me to help over 170,000 students from across the country, secure over $10 million in financial assistance though the SMU Mustang Scholar Program. And to all the 400+ volunteers that helped us produce the BEST Hispanic Youth Institutes in the country, I wish to say THANK YOU for believing in my crazy ideas, that most would have dismissed, but you stood by me and together we “started a movement!”

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Thank You To Liz Cedillo-Pereira

Raul : August 16, 2012 10:59 pm : Blog

After 28 years of waiting and petitioning … After 8 immigration lawyers who took hundreds/thousands of dollars from my mother … we finally were blessed to have the BEST immigration lawyer, Liz Cedillo-Pereira, who helped me and my family get my beautiful sister Silvia her U.S. Permanent Resident Card! Liz, thank you for your love, support and patience. WE LOVE YOU

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