The Stigma of Community College
If someone in your family or someone you were talking to said they were in community college. What are your first thoughts when you heard them say the 2 words “Community College”.
While I may not have known it then, but I learned the most important lesson when growing up and that is appreciation. Growing up I encountered a major shift in my world. I grew up receiving essentially anything I wanted. This may seem awesome to a six year old, but every day it was deteriorating my sense of stability. After 16 years of marriage my mother and father separated. Causing my world to completely turn upside-down. However, I never really had a father so it wasn’t the fact my father was gone it was the fact that it affected my mother. My mother cried everyday about how he was always gone and that she did not care about the money he was bringing home. What brought her happiness was when we were all together as a family. I learned that the meaning of my life is not all-just money it is family and happiness. During the separation I was frustrated and mad that I had nothing and I wanted to rebel. This caused my grades in highschool to sink. I was unmotivated and I gave up trying in anything. However, Slowly by slowly my world was shifting right side up as I gradually transformed into someone who cared, and someone who wanted to succeed.
After the separation I encountered a flux of financial need. Which intended that I had to work, and by working it lead me to the appreciation of money. I was only getting paid $7.25/hour by cleaning tables and bathrooms for hours everyday. However, it was the fact that I was helping my mother and our life that kept me moving. Everyday I watched my mother struggle working full-time on her feet just so she could keep a roof over our head. I also learned to appreciate those remarkable single mothers who could work three jobs just so they can feed their family.
Due to our lack of finances, my life was altered. I began appreciating life more and not taking anything for granted. Starting with appreciating my life and those in it. My grades by senior year rose from a 2.0 to a 4.0 GPA. However, by the time college application time rolled around it was too late, my cumulative grade were way to low. I had to apply to a Community College. Although what I didn’t know till my early 20’s was GPA really doesn’t matter. What MATTERS is who you are and how you will impact the university
When walking in to Montgomery College I had little involvements, and I was unsure what I was doing in my future and who I was— typical for a 17-18 year old. I felt alienated. My peers from high-school judged people attending community college. According to many high school seniors, by going to community college you are referred to having:
“lack of intelligence”
Which I now believe to be untrue. Yet, walking into Montgomery College I felt like giving them the benefit of the doubt. As time past, and while surrounded by motivated, smart students. I soon realized I did not have to be another “statistic” and neither does anyone else.
I became Inspired. I wanted high school seniors and the freshman at Montgomery College to understand that starting at Community College is not a punishment. It is simply a start to a new beginning. I became a First-Year Experience Student Ambassador, giving me the opportunity to speak in front of high school seniors about “What I wish I knew.” My ambassadorship has helped me reach out to other students with the hopes of breaking the stereotypes in my community.
In addition to becoming an ambassador, I became a forward of the Montgomery College Women’s Soccer Team. Playing soccer has always helped relieve any stress. Also helps me express my self in ways I am unable to do at home or in a class room. It taught me about teamwork, competition, and dedication. The role soccer plays in my life is important, it opened a new door that lead me to who I am today, which is goal-oriented. I played soccer my whole life, but because of my grades coming out of middle school I was unable to play in high school. By my sophomore year cliques begun and back then I was unable to abide the stereotypes.
Trying out for the soccer team taught the importance of taking chances. I was always afraid to fail. When making the team I learned an important lesson. I learned that you never know if you’ve failed unless you’ve tried.
My dream now is to help people. I want to find something in my life that makes me happy and never let it go. My priorities is not the income but the level of my happiness.
It’s hard to live in a society where people believe money as a status. A status that determines who you are — labeling and categorizing us. I believe my status will never be set in stone, as it has that capability to fluctuate. It has once before with my family. I believe, neither people nor status can determine your path except for you.
It’s important to dedicate oneself to be the best they can be every day; and, every day you learn new ways you can be even better. If one makes the utmost effort there is nothing to be afraid of, because then at least you’d know you’ve tried your best. I believe everyday is a new learning curve. Everything in our lives shapes us into the person we are today.