I want to be a lawyer. “Law school” has been the cornerstone of my post-graduation plans since middle school. When I told classmates and family friends that I would be spending my summer interning at an education advocacy and research organization, one response came all too frequently: “Hm, interesting. Why education?”

I have my personal rationales for exploring the education field this summer; my own experiences that have opened my eyes to the importance of education and its relevance across sectors. But my voice is only one of many, and my responses are only some of several possible answers. What I really find most worthy of examining here is the question itself, posed by students and professionals in industries ranging from law to marketing to engineering to medicine.

“Hm, interesting. Why education?” In short, I find this question extremely troubling. As we work to improve education across the state and nation, from implementing the new Common Core State Standards to rethinking teacher evaluation systems to sharing best practices between classrooms, one crucial component is often found lacking: recognition and support from not just teachers, principals, superintendents, and organizations like SCORE, but from doctors, lawyers, engineers, businesspeople, and more. It seems all too easy to forget that we are all stakeholders in education; to confine teaching and learning to classroom walls and assume that “someone else” will take care of teaching the next generation how to read, write, calculate, and think.

During my internship last semester at the U.S. Department of State, I had the privilege of attending a screening of a new documentary, Girl Rising, and hearing remarks from Holly Gordon, Executive Director of 10×10 Production and a lead member of the team behind the film. As she spoke about producing the film, which spotlights nine girls in nine countries whose lives were transformed by education, Ms. Gordon confessed that “education” had not always been her team’s focus. Instead, as a group of journalists, they were tasked with the daunting challenge of “making a film on how to eliminate poverty.” Countless country visits and interviews later, they settled on a solution: education for all.

It took me some time to process the power of that statement. Think about everything that we associate the word “poverty” with. Crime. Malnutrition. Poor health care. Crumbling neighborhoods. Strained economies. Failing social systems. Few (if any) people can deny that poverty affects us all. By extension, then, so must education. So why do we compartmentalize it as an issue to be dealt with my teachers, principals, superintendents, and perhaps a few advocacy organizations; an issue to be dealt with by “others,” and not by “me”?

Teach children to think critically. Guide them in problem-solving. Occupy their minds with knowledge, hope, dreams, and aspirations. Show them the thrill of getting an answer correct; of improving from mistakes; of learning from mentors and helping peers; of setting goals and working tirelessly to achieve them.

As I sat in the State Department auditorium for the documentary screening, surrounded by diplomats whose job portfolios ranged from counterterrorism to business affairs to women’s rights to food security, I watched as education transformed the lives of orphans, victims of human trafficking, children stricken by crime and natural disasters, and girls with no homes. I watched as education turned bleak futures into enlightened young people filled with courage, motivation, and opportunity.

These miracles are not unique to Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru, and Sierra Leone. They are happening—and can continue to happen in increasing number and force—here, in America; here, in Tennessee. Society, then, should not be asking, “Why education.” What we really should be asking—whether we are lawyers, doctors, businesspeople, scientists, media specialists, engineers, or community and workforce members in any other capacity—is, “Why not education?”