As I began my education many years ago, I entered with confidence. My future was bright and I was ready for the educational journey. During that journey, my future fell right before my eyes. I could not believe how fast it all goes by Looking back on those years, I remember who and what I once wanted to be. I was a child who always had the dream of being a teacher. I used to play teacher while my little cousins and they would be the students when we were little and I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in elementary education. As a student, I always loved language arts and have great desire to enrich my knowledge in language arts education. My last hope is one day I would like to become a useful resource person in my community as a professional in education. I hope to be able to make a difference in the lives of children so that their dream may come true as other children in the world.
High school to me was a whole different ball game from Middle School. In a way I guess you could say that I let the glamour of it all get the best of me in Middle School. I have experienced oppression at this stage in my education because you always had to dress and impress everyone so you will not get bullied. We are all human, and schools should be the place we go that we feel accepted by our peers but it was not. I used to wear name brand clothes such as Hollister, Aeropostale, Justice, etc. and many children would say that I only would wear those clothes because I was white. There are so many things a youth could be oppressed for in order to feel accepted in schools by their peers and I hope no one has to go through this in Middle School the way I did. There were so many new things to experience going into High School and everyone would say, “have the time of your life”, “high school is the best time in your life”, and I never thought I would miss it until now. I had a wonderful time in High School and concentrated on my grades and did not care what kind of clothes I wore and what people told me. I never use to think those four years was going to be the best times of my life until I got to college. College was the most challenging experience in my life, and yet one of the best experiences I have ever had.
Making the transition from high school to college can be a tough one. I remember my experience in such a transition strongly, as it was only a short time ago. I have grown up in a family where both my parents do not have a college degree. Most of my family members have never went to college and that is what has pushed me to attend and finish college. It was not naturally expected that I would go to college but for my own benefit I chose to pursue higher education. I have had some obstacles that were hard for me to get through but I just had to keep reminding myself that it will all pay off in the end. The hardest part was getting settled into my new place in the dorms. My roommate seemed nice and it was a little scary for me to move in somewhere unfamiliar and with someone I hardly knew. My roommate was from another state and was very different from me. She ate different kinds of foods, dressed different from me, studied different, and had different hobbies than me. I began to ignore her because she was different. This is when I experienced multicultural education. According to Sensoy and DiAngelo, “While there are variations in approaches to multicultural education, Banks and Banks (1995) define it as: a field of study whose major aim is to create equal educational opportunities for students from diverse racial, ethnic, social-class, and cultural groups.” The school and teachers never treated her different in class, never graded her papers differently, and taught her the same way they taught everyone else to create equal opportunities for everyone. According to Equity Pedagogy, “The school culture and social structure are powerful determinants of how students learn to perceive themselves.” The way the school and teachers treat everyone equal can make a student feel accepted and that made me realize I was in the wrong for ignoring her.
After my first year, the burden of living somewhere new, friends, and classes began to take a toll on me. I worked full-time to support myself, knowing that I could not ask my parents for money due to their own financial problems at home. I began dealing with a lot of stress and my confidence level dropped drastically. There were times when I cried almost every day and felt that I wanted to quit but I have stuck with it and give everything I do a 100 percent effort. According to Rachel Naomi Remen, “That which uses us strengthens us. Over time we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us. I got burnt out but I kept pushing myself to get through the rough times. While living on my own, I had to provide for myself and had to buy and cook my own food. I never had to buy my own groceries before and I did not realize how much food can cost for you to live. A trip to the local grocery store meant that my pantry was well stocked, but restocking it was another matter. I soon found myself planted firmly in a routine of ramen noodles, frozen pizza, and TV dinners. While not the healthiest of diets, they did give me energy to make it through a whole day of work and classes.
I have had many accomplishments throughout my education and have experienced oppression along the way. I was elected for academic awards in middle school for good grades and got many different awards for language arts as well. I got many scholarships in high school which are paying for my whole bachelor’s degree. Mitchell stated, “Programs and projects benefit from experienced leadership.” The leadership I gained in National Honor Society pushed me to work hard filling out every scholarship that was offered to get my school paid for. Many people would call me an over achiever, told me I was not that smart, and would question how I got all these scholarships just because I wasn’t the valedictorian which had nothing to do with my dedication. Education is something that should be enjoyed not thought of as a stressor due to others. Bullying is a major stressor for youth and it even continues as you become an adult. I hope that I can prevent this from happening in the schools when I become a teacher so I can help our children go through school without oppression. The strong system of family, friends, community members, and teachers made a key difference and have helped me overcome barriers along my educational trajectory. I used to think all that mattered in life was what people thought of my personality and my looks. The community and schools make it seem like cultural identities do not matter anymore. According to Valenzuela, “On a more personal level, students’ cultural identities are systematically derogated and diminished.” The things that used to matter don’t seem to matter as much anymore, and I now see life in a whole new way.
I have been taking five classes each semester while also working 32 hours a week. I am planning to finish all my required courses so I can graduate in May of 2020. I was the second person in my family who has finished a two-year college, and I’m now working hard to finish my bachelor degree. Knowing that not many family members have finished college I hoped to better my life and attend college. Sometimes I blamed myself because I felt envious of the world and people that had more opportunities than I did. However, I am really happy now that I could start to dream about my future in real life and not a daydream anymore. Working fulltime and going to school full-time might be a little difficult, but in order to finance my family without giving up on my dream, I motivate myself every day to have enough energy. When I started college, I was very happy, but clueless. It felt amazing that I had the opportunity to continue my education, but I did not know how to make it through my first semester. However, I said to myself that I should grab this great opportunity, or it would go pass me. I looked up for supports from every resource I could get from college, and surprisingly I made it through smoothly for the last two years.