By Annie Liu

Girl RisingWhen I was only nine years old, my parents moved my big sister and me from Kaohsiung, Taiwan to the United States. They wanted the American Dream to be a reality for us and to ensure we had the educational opportunities to make it happen.

I am extremely fortunate that my parents valued education so much that they were willing to make difficult decisions and sacrifices so they could tell my sister and me – with sincerity – that we could be and achieve anything we wanted to when we grew up.

Now, 30 years later, I live in the Seattle area and work for Charles Schwab as manager of our Bellevue, Wash. branch. My role has given me opportunities to help others understand the importance of a good education and the role it plays in shaping our children’s futures.

I often work with charitable organizations in our community that support the education and well-being of our future generations. Recently, we invited 65 members of the Boys and Girls Club (BGCA) of Bellevue to a movie screening of “Girl Rising,” a documentary that follows nine girls from around the world in their fight to go to school and get an education. The girls featured in the film faced major challenges that some might see as insurmountable – cultures where educating girls is not valued or is frowned upon, a lack of money and family support, sometimes even lack of a proper school building. The movie aims to help kids understand the value and importance of education in achieving their life dreams.

In the United States, we sometimes categorize these issues as third-world problems, but in fact there are many kids here in America’s educational system who face the same challenges. At our movie screening, one of the BGCA teenagers shared a story about her own difficult childhood and the struggles she faced in getting an education. Through perseverance – similar to the girls in the movie – she has achieved her personal goals. She is now a senior in high school and living in foster care, and her focus on academics has earned her several college scholarships.

Lack of educational opportunities is a more universal social issue than we may care to acknowledge, and by raising awareness of it we can begin to help overcome these and other socio-economic hurdles to educating our youth. Schwab is helping bring attention to the importance of education and life long learning by screening “Girl Rising” in our branches across the country.

I am grateful to my parents who appreciated the importance of education and continuous learning as a means of creating the kind of life my sister and I dreamed of for ourselves. I am also grateful to Schwab for empowering me to help others do the same. It’s opportunities like this – to pay forward an important lesson – that make my job so fulfilling and gives me a sense of purpose in life.

About the author: Annie Liu is branch manager at the Bellevue branch and has been with Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (memberSIPC) for nearly 13 years.

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