Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student
Working at a community college, we have the privilege of interacting with young souls, full of hope and heartache. We have the opportunity to cross paths with individuals, some on steep trajectories into distant arenas. During this momentary period when our paths intersect, we may be fortunate, at times, to identify in one of these individuals a skill, an accomplished gift—a talent yet to be clearly appreciated but leading perhaps to lifelong direction. In the fall of 2010, during an English 79 Mastery Exam reading, we went looking for exemplary essays. And we found one—an essay written in eighty minutes on a controversial topic. The essay, entitled “I Have a DREAM,” argued clearly and effectively in favor of The DREAM Act. We emailed the author for his permission to publish the essay in the May 2011 volume of Delta Winds. He agreed. The essay was published and later discussed in composition classes at Delta College. Six months later, we were contacted by another person in search of writing talent—a publisher’s representative from Bedford/St. Martin’s. And she, too, wished to publish this essay—not locally but nationally—in a new edition of a textbook entitled Real Writing.
Soon afterward, when we phoned the student-writer to break the news, he seemed unclear about the whole proposal. His voice reflected the photo he had sent in—that of a smiling young man with a baseball cap tipped high and to the side. He seemed to have a half-hearted interest in the essay he had written a year before. His attention peaked, however, when hearing that he might be paid a stipend for re-publication of the essay in a textbook. Sometimes, the tone of the voice can remind us of ourselves at that age—when we were twenty-one, anxious to spend more time with close friends and troubled by tedious college assignments. Sometimes, the voice adds a dimension but leaves some missing parts from the whole picture. And sometimes the rest can be found in what the individual has left behind. This individual, this student, had written with care and compassion about allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to become citizens. In the essay, the author had quoted his brother, who was serving in the military. The author also had quoted his mother, who had worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital and who had praised an immigrant doctor for saving many lives. The author had revealed enough of his own personal values and beliefs to complete a picture, to make us appreciate who he was. Sometimes we are left with that final impression. Sometimes we are not.
Sometimes we are struck by the abrupt break in an individual student’s trajectory. The author we were so impressed with was Dominic Deiro. In December of 2011, Dominic tragically passed away, after an automobile accident anyone of us could have been involved in. Now, we are left with what he has left us—a reminder of the kind of person he was. And we are reminded to be more aware of our crossing paths and to value the precious moments of life we share and the privilege we have to work with the students of Delta College.