I am privileged many ways, one of which is having a supportive family who values education and celebrates my accomplishments. To give me opportunities, my dad worked on construction sites around the Southeast for his entire career, living on campgrounds and only coming home every couple of weeks. On many occasions, he worked a seventy hour week, then drove overnight just to see us for a day or two. He does not have a college degree, despite being one of the best historians I know, because every dollar he earns goes directly to supporting my family. To give us opportunities, my mom works a full time job and has still always managed to construct a home in which love is primary. My parents work so that my brothers and I can live and experience all we want to. They sacrifice so that we can do the things we want to do with our lives, and they expect nothing in return. They deserve to pursue their own passions and live own their lives, but their ability to do so in the future relies in large part on the choice I am making in college. The privilege of having parents who work tirelessly for my brothers and I also comes with a lot of pressure, because if I fail, I am failing not only myself, but also the people who love me most in this world and who will rely on me when they can no longer work.
The idea of being low income is not always a comfortable one. It is not something you are supposed to be proud of, but rather, it is something you are trying to overcome. It is hard to accept something as a part of your background and accept the ways in which it has formed your identity if it is something you are supposed to change. Watching my parents give all they are in order to give me all they can has defined who I am and who I strive to become
I was a high school drop out at age 15 and went back to get my GED when I was 17 years old. My mom was a single mother who lost her job when the economy crashed. She eventually found other work but had to quit to take care of my grandmother who had alzheimers. My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer and a year later my grandmother was put into a nursing home because she was to the point we couldn’t take care of her any longer. My mother and I lived with my grandparents in their house which was foreclosed on when my grandma was put into a nursing home which left my mom and me homeless. This is definitely the time of my life that I was most aware of my SES. It is crazy to think that all of this happened only 4 years ago. We moved probably 7 times before I finally got a decent paying job and I also attended community college full time and graduated with an associates degree with a 4.0 GPA. I applied to my dream college, UVA and saved up enough money to move to Charlottesville. I am so happy that UVA gave me a chance and provided me with so many academic opportunities I otherwise would have never had but it hasn’t been without many challenges. It is still hard for me to believe how far I’ve come despite the adversity I have faced in my life. I will be graduating in May and I am currently applying to grad schools which is a position that I never dreamed I would be in. My time at UVA has been financially challenging and I am afraid of where I will live when I graduate college in May. My goal is to find a job where I can work for the summer before grad school but I have definitely felt that my financial challenges have added a tremendous amount of stress to my life that I feel most other students don’t have to worry about. I always think, I should be excited about graduating but I am terrified because I don’t ever want to be homeless again for any amount of time! I feel my experiences have set me apart from a lot of students here and feel like I have experienced a lot of things in life many other students here have never known and will never know what it’s like to experience. It makes it difficult to relate to others at times and sometimes it feel as though others are unappreciative of the little things in life that they take for granted every single day.