If you saw my post on Facebook you know I have something exciting to tell you about.
I’m in a program at my college for first generation, low income and disabled students. It’s there to give people who are least likely to finish college a hand up and a support system throughout their education.
I’m first generation and low income so I very much qualify for the extra help. It’s nice to have someone nag you every once in a while, you know?
This morning I got this email from my advisor:
Can you give me a call as soon as possible? It’s about your aid for next year… no worries, just a detail to discuss…
I’m at the number below J
Hope you’re enjoying your time off from classes and homework and bus rides, oh my!
Yeah, she’s a funny one, the emails still sent me into a minor panic though.
When I called her I could tell something was up.
Turns out I a got a full tuition wavier for next year!
In case you are still lost: I applied to a whole bunch of in house scholarships last year and as far as I knew didn’t get any of them. Turns out the person who does all that got sick, super behind and just recently finally got around to handing out the scholarships.
My advisor had known for months!
All the while I was boo-hooing about not getting any of the scholarships I had applied for, she had pretend not to know anything because it wasn’t “official” yet.
I have to say I’m impressed with how well she can keep a secret.
What will this mean for us?
It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders!
This means that next school year is going to be much less stressful and we won’t be rubbing our pennies together hoping for a miracle.
So to celebrate I’m going to share the essay I wrote for the scholarship with you, and some chicken photos cause that’s how I roll.
Without further ado ~
In my heart of hearts everything I do stems from my need to nurture, create and understand. I want to see growth and improvement, to leave everything I touch better than I found it. My academic interests have grown out of my desire to leave health, resilience and beauty behind me; like the trail of growing and blooming things Crysta, in the movie Fern Gully, leaves in her wake. Really though, who doesn’t want to be a fairy with magical abilities to heal, make things grow and talk to animals?
When I was seven my parents divorced leaving my mom a single parent of two. She was a junior high drop out as was my grandma; as far as we know all the previous generations of women were just as or even more uneducated. I’m from rural north central Washington. It’s a beautiful place but dependent on agriculture and tourism, making for a brutal job market, especially for a single mother with minimal education and job skills. What happened between then and when I left for college could fill a novel. Suffice it to say, we all worked hard all the time. There were good times and dark times. Times we almost managed on our own and others when we couldn’t even keep a roof over our head without family, community and church friends filling in the gaps.
I think many people who’ve had hard childhoods try to forget what they went through, they want to be just another “normal” person as soon as possible. I understand but don’t feel that way. I will carry my childhood with me always. It has forever colored my perspective. The seven hundred odd dollars of financial aid a month is more than we ever had growing up. Living on such a small amount might be unimaginable to you but I honestly don’t know any other way of living. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard. We just scrape by and continually pray that we won’t have any unexpected expenses. This scholarship would make our current situation easier but more importantly, enable me to finish with a degree that will allow poverty to become a pungent memory instead of a way of life.
Before getting involved in TRiO I had no idea there were organizations that helped first generation students like me succeed in college. I think many of my fellow low income high school students could have desperately used support to just get to college, never mind succeed there. I grew up having to be self sufficient and learned early to take care of things on my own. Asking for help is not something that comes easily to me. Having people who are on my side, able and prepared to help me has been a surreal experience. I know being in the program has provided me with a safety net that takes a lot of stress and uncertainty out of being a first generation student. I can’t turn to my family if I have questions about college or want support. In fact, I have been actively discouraged by them at times. If I weren’t involved in TRiO, I would be navigating college completely on my own. For that matter, I wouldn’t be writing this application letter without my advisor’s nudges.
My goals after college are not going to make me rich. I’m afraid if I leave with debt I won’t be able to make my dreams a reality. Instead, I will be working to pay it off. I know if I can just make it out of college debt free my goals will be achievable, goals that involve helping others live better, more sustainably. At Evergreen I realized that while my childhood was hard, it also broke stereotypes about living in poverty. Research shows that low income people often eat a higher proportion of unhealthy, nutrient deficient food. I know from my own childhood that doesn’t have to be true. Cooking from scratch, preserving food, gardening, foraging, hunting and raising livestock can enable those living in poverty to eat much better. Realizing that many people lack the skills and knowledge that enabled us to be healthy and gave us more control over our lives in difficult circumstances has made being able to share what I know even more important.
Right now, even with my hectic school schedule, I’ve started a blog to share some of this hard-won knowledge to enable people to feed themselves better and live a more self sufficient lifestyle. I plan to eventually return home and teach skills that enable people to feed themselves well while at the same time give them a sense of pride, self sufficiency and confidence. I especially want to work with low-income families and single mothers and children. I dream of making a piece of land a healthy and resilient ecosystem while being a place that nurtures people so they can achieve their full potential; making thata reality fuels my drive.
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