Excited to be ordering my cap and gown tomorrow, maybe even a class ring. That’s right, world: I’m graduating from college this May. You tried to stop me, world, but I was dedicated to success.
More importantly, I happened to be born into a situation and a set of circumstances made it possible for me to even pursue this dream.
…not everyone is so lucky.
Many people who want so badly to be able to go to college simply can’t find a way to make it work. They have to take care of their children, their parents, medical bills, house payments, what-have-you. They don’t have a way to get to college, they don’t have the option to stop working 40+ hour weeks at their jobs for a semester at a time, or they aren’t medically capable to join the army in order to pay for school like I was fortunate enough to be able to do (only around 1-3% of Americans are, so don’t feel bad!) Maybe their parents never even reminded them that they COULD go to college. Maybe they never felt college was even an option for them. And for many, even in THIS country, our good ‘ol USA, which keeps telling itself that “everyone” can achieve “anything” if they just “work hard enough,” they were right. Attending college, and especially graduating from college, is a dream that simply is available only as a literal dream to thousands of adults in this country, despite how motivated, intelligent, dedicated, or hard-working they may be.
There are numerous different and very real road blocks which could have kept me from achieving this goal of graduating from college. I am so lucky to have been born into a family that believed in me, helped me apply to schools, and, though far from being rich or even middle-class, by working together we had always been able to somehow afford food, clothing, and even a few basic luxury items, such as internet in our homes, a car to drive us to work, campus visits, and job interviews, and even personal cell phones to be able to make and receive important calls.
I’m super lucky to have been born white, too, let me tell you. This lack of melanin in my skin has awarded me COUNTLESS additional benefits not everyone in our society gets to enjoy. I can enter a store without being followed by the clerk because he thinks I’m going to steal something. I can sound intelligent and educated without people thinking I’m just trying to “act white.” I can get a job without people assuming I only got the job because of my race. I can GET a job, period. The color of my skin certainly wasn’t the only thing that got me to be where I am today, but let me tell you: it sure as hell mattered, and it sure as hell helped, WAY more than it EVER should have.
Maybe one day we’ll find a way for higher education to REALLY be made available to all, but it’s certainly going to be an uphill battle. The super-rich in our country *especially* don’t have anything to gain from the creation of a more educated public: they only have everything to lose.
There’s no denying I worked hard, I sacrificed much, and darn it, of course I’m excited more than anything to grab that diploma and frame it the minute I get home (after I make a photocopy to hang on the fridge, of course!)
But I will never be able to forget all of what helped me to get here. I couldn’t have done it on my own, and I certainly couldn’t have done it without already being born into conditions which enabled me to achieve all of what was expected of me as a college student in this country. I’m excited to do all that I can following my graduation to make it possible for as many other people in our country (and in our world) to be able to set out and achieve the same goal and dream that I was fortunate enough to be able to achieve: a college eduction.
We all have a lot of work to do if we want to make this possible, but every goal achieved has to start somewhere, right?
So world, you better get ready.
On May 11th, 2013, I will set out to make this real and actual difference in the world.
I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet, but I know I won’t give up. The consequences of doing nothing is far to great a burden to bear.
When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. -Confucius