Dreamer inspires local students

“I am unlimited!” the students roared in unison. “If it is to be it’s up to me!”

The students consisted of well over 400 freshmen and juniors from Wood River High School. They filled up almost every seat at the Community Campus in Hailey last Wednesday morning.

They were calling out in response to Dr. Alisha Moreland-Capuia.

The good doctor was in town to share her inspiring story. Alisha was raised in a challenging environment in Portland. But thanks to some great teachers, her own determination and the I Have A Dream Foundation, Alisha has gone on to live a very impressive life.

“The goal here is to have a conversation, because there’s so much happening in the world and we’re all important,” she began her talk.

Alisha became a Dream Scholar 25 years ago. The Idaho I Have A Dream Foundation is one of over 200 programs in 28 states. The non-profit’s goal is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to pursue higher education. They do so by empowering “Dreamers” in under-resourced parts of the community to graduate from college.

Thanks in part to being a Dreamer, Alisha has earned a doctorate and will be teaching at Harvard.

“Have you ever been counted out? Had people tell you that you can’t do something?” Dr. Moreland-Capuia asked the crowd, as she shared her story. “I could either succumb to those circumstances or I could overcome them.”

She told the students that if she could overcome such challenges they could, too. Reminding them that everyone faces challenges in life sooner later.

“What we think about ourselves is what we tell ourselves,” Dr. said. “If we change our narrative and the conversations we have with ourselves, we can change our lives.”

With degrees focusing on psychiatry and addiction medicine in her professional life—and two teen-aged daughters and a husband in her personal life—Dr. Moreland-Capuia understands the mental health struggles so many of us have.

“One in four students in this room struggles with something,” Alicia said. “Join me in starting a movement for change…. I am going to ask each of you to be kind.”

Part of the conversation included a discussion on racism.

“Racism is a concept, which means that each one of you has the power to deconstruct it,” she said. “We all make assumptions, but when we let those go we can have some great experiences.”

Dr. Moreland-Capuia ended her talk by telling the students that, “you win in life by being a good person and by trying.” She also reminded them to embrace their self-worth with another chorus of “If it is to be it is up to me.”

“Time is precious and important. You are important, too. You have value,” Dr. Moreland-Capuia said, signing off, “Go forth and do good.”

To find out more about the local I Have A Dream Foundation go to ihdfidaho.org.

By Mike McKenna

This story originally appeared in the Chamber Corner for the Wood River Weekly.

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