Chad Nelson Graduates with PhD

Chad Nelson earns his PhD from Texas A&M.

This is a letter to the entire Buffalo community. Though I have been absent from the Buffalo school system for 10 years, this letter of thanks does not exclude anyone living in our great community. I do not want this article to focus on my individual achievement, but rather I hope to use my accomplishment of earning my PhD to tell a greater story. This is a story of how a community of supportive teachers, parents, bus drivers, managers, and all citizens can make a difference in a young person?s life.

John Dewey once said, ?you do not learn from you experiences, but rather learn from reflecting on your experiences.? As I reflect on my time as a student in Buffalo I feel joyful, supported, and blessed. These feelings do not emerge because of the new computers we may have received or fancy uniforms for our sport teams, but rather these feelings are derived from the people who were influential during such a crucial time in my life. These people were the teachers that consistently invested their energy into me day after day. The staff members who prepared meals or cleaned our schools. The volunteers who made our extracurricular activities possible and not just wishful thinking.

One of the greatest factors that compel me to commit to serving others through education now is the simple fact that so many people have sacrificed for me. Most every opportunity that I have been privileged to receive in my life has been a direct result of someone else?s foresight, ambition, and leadership. Coming from such a rural community where resources were very limited, I think of the many sacrifices made by my parents, coaches, and teachers to help me complete my education. These types of sacrifices have fueled my intrinsic motivation to serve others.

Dr. Kent Willis once told me, ?the most precious and abundant resource in the world is young people. They possess the energy, talent and passion to develop solutions for every problem. The sustainability of every community is in the hands of young people.?As we are on the cusp of a new school year and another fantastic opportunity to impact young lives, I encourage you all to come together as you did for me. Teachers, your time is appreciated and your lessons for life are valued. Parents/guardians, please take time to get to know your educators as they too are humans and need your support. You may never know how your positivity and thoughtfulness can change a life. It truly changed mine.

Thank you to all of my teachers, coaches, and Buffalo community members that took their time to assist me with my growth. I am very proud to represent the great town of Buffalo, Texas. I could not have completed this journey without you all. I hope my story encourages you all to continue to invest in our youth and come together with respect, love, and kindness to make our town one of the best in the country. Thank you to my beautiful bride, Candace. Thank you to my family, Ricky, Sherryl, Carl and Erin for your continued love and support as well.