celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news
Author credits Panhandle influence
John R. Erickson
Occupation: Rancher, author of "Hank the Cowdog" series

Where did you receive your education?

Perryton High School; University of Texas; two years Harvard University Divinity School.

How has your education played a role in your life today?

Everyone gets an education, some in college and some not. I have learned both ways, and it was often painful. College was valuable in that it forced me to do things that I was too lazy to do on my own.

What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?

Ignorance and laziness were my main afflictions. They still are, but I overcame them enough to permit UT to give me a diploma. I'm proud to have it, but I have never taken it out of the package it came in.

What is the value of your education?

I was introduced to the great authors and thinkers of Western civilization, but that was only the beginning, not the end. College gives us the tools to expand our education across an entire lifetime, the most important being the skill of reading. A good education should also instill the values of 4,000 years of Judeo-Christian history and wisdom, giving us insight into where we came from, what we're supposed to do here on Earth, and why it matters. Education that can't distinguish between right and wrong seems pointless.

What would you say to someone who's undecided about continuing their education?

Whether you go to college or not, you can educate yourself by reading. If you spend four years attending parties at a university, you're wasting someone's money. If you spent four years in the Amarillo Public Library, reading the great books of Western civilization (including the Bible), you would have made good use of your resources.

When did you make education a priority?

When I was a sophomore in high school I spent several days working in a post yard near Mineral Wells, loading big cedar posts onto semi trucks in the heat of summer. I worked beside a wino who dropped out of school in the eighth grade. That experience increased my interest in college exactly 100 percent.

What made you realize the importance of education in your life?

See above.

Did you ever think about quitting? What made you keep going?

I have thought about quitting many worthwhile ventures, for the usual reasons: fear, laziness and ignorance. But I was raised by and around sturdy Panhandle people who considered "quit" a four-letter word. I admire that quality and have tried to absorb it into my own experience.

2009 Stories
2008 Archive
calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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