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Brophy Roundup

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Summit on Opportunity Gap exasperates the need for change

By Brett A. Mejia ’13

With Brophy’s annual Summit on Human Dignity wrapped up, the topic of the Opportunity Gap has sparked much conversation around campus.

Beginning with the Summit’s opening Mass and first school-wide presentation lead by special guest the Rev. Jim Gartland, S.J., he left us with the questions such as what we are supposed to do when we see homeless people on the street and around the world?

I think it was an interesting start to the Summit because it made me think of what more I could do for that person who is asking for money. Should I treat them to a nice meal, or should I just give them a few dollars and hope they use the money wisely?

I also wanted to explore this topic on the Opportunity Gap. I wanted to go beyond the gap of money and wealth versus the poor and homeless; I wanted to learn about any solutions towards making sure that every single child has the same opportunities to receive a good education.

Continuing through the first week, Calvin Terrell began Wednesday’s workshop day with his presentation on identifying the problem with the opportunity gap and how we inherited this world that is full of corruption and greed.

It was an inspiring talk and it made me realize how much of a gap there really is between the one percent and the rest of the world. It is a staggering and an exponential number that continues to widen.

Then it was onto the workshops themselves and I chose three that seemed different from one another: The Homeless Gap; Making the Grade for Arizona’s Vulnerable Kids; and Creating Hope:  The Journey out of Darkness and Despair.

After reflecting on my workshops during our time in fifth period, I saw that there weren’t many solutions towards fixing the opportunity gap, but that my workshops were trying to change the mindset of everyone toward one that is full of compassion and hope.

I think that the workshops were trying to establish a base of making sure that we understand the problems behind the opportunity gap and how it is functions in modern society, rather than trying to convince us one way or another that being rich is bad or that being poor is bad.

Week two of the Summit began with a presentation from ASU Associate Professor Dr. Erik Johnson, about economic inequality gap that is taking hold of the world.

Dr. Johnson allured everyone with his demographics and speech and debater presence and he was able to communicate that what the majority of Americans think about the opportunity gap is way off from what the reality of it is.

Our last presenter, Dana Naimark, talked about the opportunity gap in education. She focused on the discrepancy between students who have wealth and low test scores to students who don’t have much money and high test scores.

Wrapping up the Summit on Friday, we finished with a prayer service that focused on making a difference in the world so that the opportunity gap can come closer together rather than spreading apart like it is now.

Out of my four years and four Summits at Brophy, I think that this year’s subject on the Opportunity Gap was able to draw more controversy and questioning than the previous three because it is a topic that cannot be easily solved with a simple solution.

Many of the presenters in the workshops didn’t provide any solutions; they just talked about how and why the opportunity gap has occurred.

I think that this year’s Summit was successful in delivering the message of how wide of a gap has been created between the fortunate and the poor.

The Summit has left us with the aspirations and inspirations to try and figure out a solution towards fixing the opportunity gap rather than giving us one direction to work towards because it is up to our generation to end the continuance of the rapidly growing opportunity gap.

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