Brown and Graduated by Lluvia Macias

What obstacles do minority first generation high school students face during their journey to higher education and how do they overcome them?

“I’m brown, not the plain card board type of brown. I’m the coffee flavored, chocolate ice cream and brownies brown. I’m cinnamon brown, Mexican brown. And not only am I just brown, I’m brown and graduated.” Nancy Mejias, a graduate from Colorado State University asserted while her face lit up in response to the movement of her shoulders to an imaginary music beat.

It’s more than a high school diploma. It’s a key, a stepping stone, an unraveling uncompleted promise for something much bigger. Walking across the stage for graduation is the end of a journey for some, but for many first generation students it is a symbolic milestone to the imminent highway ahead. With the pride and glory that is enveloped in a high school diploma, many do not recognize the inestimable, unforeseen struggles that lie ahead.

The mosaic melting pot of traditions, cultures and values that come together and make the U.S. whole, all have different diverse backgrounds. Their struggles and successes paint the colors of the American flag. One thing that should be highlighted is that not everyone has the same starting place and not everyone was given the same opportunities to become successful. stated that rougly about 90% of first generation college students are low-income. This makes the playing field unequal, causing some to get a head start and others to fall behind. Many are privileged with the fact that their parents had gone to the process of college as a whole. And others, are stepping in the dark with what seems like no guidance in a whirlpool of deadlines, standards and essays. This is seen as a major set back to first generation students who are just starting to dip their toes into a whole new world of education.

Many students have sought out different opportunities to help them achieve the goal of attending a college or university. They’re willingness to try a little bit harder on figuring things out than the rest has lead many to discover many programs such as the I Have a Dream, the True Achievement Program, and the Asset Program among others that cater to their needs and help fill the gaps where the students’ parents aren’t able to fill. According to first-generation students also showed more interest in completing a certificate programs compared to non-first-generation students. The ratio was 33.6 percent to 27.7 percent. There are programs out there with the intent of helping first generation students, student only need to have the drive and commitment to get there.
There have been many stories of individuals who overcame endless obstacles and made it big despite the fact that it seemed all odds were against them. One individual in particular is Nely Galan. Apart from being a fan of her work myself, she has won her supporters with her sweat and tears. She is a strong writer, entrepreneurial bad ass Latina (among other things) who owns her own television network. She fought restlessly against the Latina stereotype and on top of that, she was a first generation student. She did this by learning to embody the role models that she looked up to, ingest their leadership abilities and “fake it until she made it”. She is living proof that there is a world full of opportunity if you are willing to sweat a little. And if you are willing to go above and beyond as she said,“Chispas.” (boom) You can be amazed at what heights you will reach regardless of whether or not you are first generation or have any types of obstacles ahead.

The amount of first generations students has been rapidly increasing every year. That reflects the fact that they are helping each other out and assisting each other to climb new heights. Thus, defying that crab in the bucket analogy of pulling each other down or not knowing how to help each other. As a result to this other programs have strengthened their help for students and have set out to understand their situation in order to really help. This heavily benefits students when they find themselves in the dark. Nancy Mejias is a living example of how first generation students give back to their community once they graduate from college. She  currently works for a non-profit organization which focuses on retention to and through college within low income families and students who are also first generation, like herself. Her personal experiences allow her to connect and support the students in ways that other people could not.

Another example of how successful first generation students have returned and given back to their community is Michelle Obama. Apart from initiating many programs to push and support first generation students all the way to getting their diploma on stage, on February 5th, 2014 she has personally made an “I’m First” video. “At first I even worried that maybe I wasn’t as smart as some of my classmates.” She explained when she spoke about how she felt importers syndrome. She also brushed up on how she didn’t know what to expect from the little things like sheets, to not feeling like she belonged in a class. She is a role model for thousands of First Generation students and has given hope to them by advocating and implementing powerful programs. Seeing where she is today and knowing that her starting point is similar to many first generation students, first generation students look up to her and want to follow in her footsteps.

Getting more students to go to college and pursue a career in areas which they love will also benefit our economy. According to the future economic growth ofour city and state depends on having a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce. The higher the percentage of college graduates there are in our economy, the more higher paying jobs they will occupy. And in turn, drastically helping our economy and bettering our society as a whole. stated that about 40% of community college students are first generation, proving they are taking the first steps toward higher education despite A world full of educated and open minds will largely help advance new discoveries and advance our technolog and economy.

Although first generation students face many struggles, the outcome of reaching higher education is worth it. Overcoming barriers and achieving what they set out to do benefits our society and the lives of first generation students. No matter what odds are against these students, their willingness to overcome adversity and make their lives and communities better is a beneficial thing for those around them as well.


Student Athlete with Single Parent by S.M.

The day was November 21, 2016. Me and my mom were in Barstow, California to take my official visit to Barstow Community College to play Baseball and go to school. After the tour of the school, the assistant coach brought us to team weight training to watch, all I thought about was what would Dad think. Eight months earlier that day my dad was fighting for his life in a hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan after a freak accident which did some pretty serious damage. Four days later he died at the age of forty-eight from the infection in his brain down to his lungs. I was sixteen years old and unsure what to do. I didn’t know how to handle the rest of High school and a lifetime without my biggest fan, mentor and coach in my life.

Few months after all the crap that went on, I looked up famous athletes who grew up with a single parent in their household. Names like Jackie Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Lebron James, and Ray Lewis all grew up and went through the recruiting and getting drafted process without the most important role model in their life. Anything is possible.

One of my former football and baseball teammates who is now a Redshirt Freshman at Western State playing football, Jordan Karels said that he grew up with just his mom and his sister. His dad left him and his family before he was even born. In the middle of his sophomore year in high school he moved from his home in Minnesota to Boulder to live with his sister and had to leave his mom behind. I saw him in August when he came to see us play against Horizon, and I asked him what was the recruiting process like. He said it was weird especially how his sister went to all of his visits with him because his sister really didn’t understand what it was like to be an athlete in the process of getting recruited to go play a sport and go to school.

Before we flew out to Barstow, I my mom was trying to understand what it’s like to go for an official visit so she made me asked one of my friends who are currently at `Barstow CC playing baseball to ask what it is like to be a student athlete at Barstow. My friends name is Joe Kraus, he and I have a lot in common. We both play Baseball, we both have a learning disability of some kind and we are hard working student athletes. I thought he would be the perfect person to talk to about this topic of recruitment.

My mom is learning everything with me about the recruiting part because I really started the recruiting process about a month after my dad’s death. I emailed about 40 schools only 17 responded. I sent them my prospect video to all the ones that responded, only 2 responded to the video plus a lot of D3 schools offered me because of the video but i’m not interested at all in them.

One of the two schools that responded on my video happened to be on my top 5 Junior college list. The recruiting coordinator of Barstow CC name Ricky Walker called me and he and I talked for about an hour and 20 minutes. We talked about how he thought I would be a great fit to the program and talked to me about the school and everything. I felt really good if I did go there. After the phone call I thought about how would Dad feel about this school and coach? Knowing him best I think he would say dude this is freaking awesome. I was crying inside my head because I felt like really deserved to see this day more then anyone because he was the biggest help that made me the Man and student athlete I am today.

About a month later I meet coach Walker in person during thanksgiving break at the school in Barstow. I felt right at home and I knew that this was the place for me and the place where I can find a way to get drafted and go to a D1 school. I knew my dad was with me all that time and helped me make the right decision for my future. I will be attending Barstow CC in August to continue my education and my baseball career. I couldn’t have done it at all with both of my parents even if one of them is not hear.

Writer’s memo: My story is about no matter what hits you, you can still achieve your dream. I faced adversity in March with my dad’s death and it was hard to go through the recruiting process without him because I knew he would have good advice for me in the future. 8 months later I committed to a really good school for both baseball and academics(for a Juco) in a great location. After almost 9 months of hell, something great happens.  

Turning The Tide by D.W.

In the article Turning the Tide, Harvard University tries to make college applications more authentic in wholesome. They recommend different application requirements that put more emphasis on character instead of academic achievement. However, these requirements seem to defeat the purpose as they create more hoops to jump through and make it harder for students with little time to get accepted.

Harvard University gives many recommendations as to how to make a better application process, and they all center around having good and character and rewarding students who contribute to their community. The good news is that this would make sure students don’t put all their time into getting A’s and could spend time helping their community. However, we are met with the same problems that grade requirements give us: just as applicants won’t try to get good grades for more than college acceptance, many students would just do community service for the credentials, even if they don’t care about others.

This gets into a sticky issue. How can you measure character in a way that is fair and genuine? It’s hard to teach morals or grade someone on their character without dehumanizing them. Without getting too off topic, putting emphasis and servicing the communities doesn’t really do a whole lot more than grades do. And while it favors students with less academic ability and more time, it hurts another demographic.

I have barely any time any more. I had to quit my job because I practice for hours a day on my instrument to prepare for performances and auditions. My college audition was based on my musical performance, so thankfully I wasn’t hurt by a lack of time. But if my application wanted me to complete services for my community, there is no way I would have gotten in with such little time to begin with. This demographic, busy people, are hurt. If you’re very smart and play a sport, it might not matter because you have little time and can’t volunteer locally like these applications ask.

In addition, Harvard argues that the application process makes students value all of their self worth based on their grades and ability to get into colleges. While this is true, it’s a problem that our culture has and that kids learn from a young age and hardly has to do with college. We enjoy seeing our achievements in front us in the form of trophies or awards. Material possessions help remind us that we have worth, so colleges have little do with it.

In short, to completely address the problems that college applications pose, we will have to completely restructure school without grades and society without material-based self worth. This problem is a small piece in a much larger puzzle that we have to address from the top down instead of starting with colleges.

Writer’s memo: This is an informative piece to let readers know about Harvard’s proposed changes to their application process, and how applicants sometimes have to lie and combat unrealistic requirements to stay competitive.

End The Cycle Through School by K.O.

These days college in America is outrageously  expensive. The people who end up going to college are the ones whose parents can afford to send them. It seems that the only people who can get into the good colleges have the money to spend to get there paying for classes such as ACT and SAT. America needs to change the cost of college and make it affordable for all. Doing this would increase the amount of students who would graduate high school and attend college. “There are lots of people out there with the desire to go to college…(saying it is too expensive)” says Jarratt Miller a college dropout.

A free college education would motivate more kids to graduate high school keeping them on a good path to success. In 2005, the Kalamazoo public schools in Kalamazoo, Michigan said that any student who had attended their schools since 9th grade could get a free or near free education to any of the public college in Michigan. The results from this showed that the average GPA increased .71 points and the days in detention and suspended dropped significantly. This showed that the student was much more motivated to graduate and get good grades if they knew that they would be able to go to college and get a further education.

There would also be a positive impact of the United States economy if America made college cheaper.  The US could save about  18.5 billion dollars in annual crime costs if  high school  graduation rate increased by only 5 percent (Moretti 27).  On average the murder and assault rate reduces by 30 percent for every year the person goes to school. So the crime rate would also be reduced meaning less would be in prison. It is also cheaper to send people to school than to prison. The United States spends around 12,643 dollars to educate one student for one year versus the annual cost of 28,323 dollars to house one inmate. Another thing is nearly 80 percent of inmates do not have a high school diplomas; if they had gotten them they would be much more likely to have a better life and not in prison.

Society would also have a great impact if college were cheaper. “The more people who go to college the less people are in poverty,” Maddison Mccambridge.   Society could save $209,000 in prison and other costs for every potential dropout who could be helped to complete high school. Also people without a high school diploma on average make 400,ooo dollars less in a lifetime than those who do graduate. The less people make the more people that need financial support. If there were less dropouts there would be more people who could get better jobs to support themselves. Also each class of high school dropouts costs the U.S. more than $200 billion in lost wages and tax revenues. This means that more people would need help with social support and money for food stamps. Society would have a greater impact and less poverty if more people could afford to go to college.

America should make college free to help the society, economy, and to motivate kids to graduate high school keeping them out of trouble. America would be a greater country with less people in poverty if this would happen. The economy would also rise and we would have to pay less for prison because, there would be less people in there. Overall, America would have more educated people and a better running country if we would just make college affordable for all.


Works Cited

Caplan-Bricker, Nora. “Some Cities Are Promising Free College to High School

Students. Does It Work?” New Republic. N.p., 21 Feb. 14. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

“Crime Rates Linked To Educational Attainment, New Alliance Report Finds.” Alliance

For Excellent Education Crime Rates Linked To Educational Attainment New

Alliance Report Finds Comments. N.p., 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

“Dropping Out, Again: Why So Many College Students Never Graduate.” Interview by

Michael Rubenstein. NBC News. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 18 Nov. 2014.

Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

Mccambridge, Madison. “College Costs.” Personal interview. 20 Apr. 2016.

Moretti, Enrico. “The Campaign for Educational Equity OLD » Teachers College.” The

Campaign for Educational Equity OLD » Teachers College. Columbia University, n.d. Print. 11 Mar. 2016.

Poverty and Education by H.L.

Education, we are told, can almost guarantee you a high paying job. This, for the most part, is true, so it should be obvious that everyone wants an education. The problem with this is that not everyone has access to a good education. On average, kids living in poverty will not receive as advanced an education as someone living in wealth. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that kids living in poverty are more likely to get a job before finishing high school.

For a family in poverty, getting as much income as possible is a must. Because of this, children may have to take up a job in order to help their families. Wealthy kids, on the other hand, can afford to not have a job until they graduate high school. There is a law which prohibits kids under the age of 16 from working during school hours, but the amount of money a kid who works only after school may not get them as much money as they want, so they may drop out in order to make enough money to support their family.

In addition to this, children living in poverty may not have educated parents, which means they may not be able to get the help they need in order to succeed (although, to be fair, you shouldn’t be relying on your family members to do well in school… how would you learn anything?). Those kids may not be able to do as well in school because of this, so they would have a lower chance of getting into college than, say, a person with substantial wealth.

Which brings us to the topic of college. Assuming that everyone has an equal chance of getting into college, there is the cost of college to worry about. For the wealthy, this is no problem, as their parents can easily pay the tuition, but for anyone who does not have extremely wealthy parents, paying for college may be a deterrent. This is a problem because it means that , in general, only the rich will be able to stay rich. People who have to pay for college will likely have to rely on student loans, and therefore will not be able to make a lot of money early on.

So, what can we do about it? Sadly, not much. The minimum wage can be increased so that kids in poverty would not be forced to work such long hours, freeing up time for school. College costs could also be decreased though I doubt the colleges would be okay with that. It looks as if this trend will continue, and the rich will become richer while the poor stay where they are. This cannot be a good thing, so something must change soon, before this becomes a national crisis (note that this is not as much of a problem in many other countries). Will this be fixed, or will our country fail?

The Right College by A.L.P

  Choosing a “good” college for you,  first of all, should be based on your personality and where you will learn best. If you go to a college for it’s reputation and fail because it’s not the best learning environment for you, that’s worse than doing great in a college with less of a reputation.

 A good college should not be based on the reputation of a school and your grade point average.

When I used to live in Brazil, I used to go to a super expensive school where people didn’t really care the grade you get in a test or where was your college dream. They would talk about every once in awhile though, but still was not something that mattered that much. When I moved here, things changed. I honestly feel like people at fairview are so smart and basically all the care about is getting in a good college. Sometimes though the college that they really want, is based on parents opinions or have a good reputation, for example Harvard. Here at fairview I feel like people are always judging you depending on the college you go to and they all have the stereotype of Harvard college type of thing, but there are families that can’t afford a good college because of it’s price. I sometimes feel intimidated to talk about those kind of things and college between my friends and that’s something that shouldn’t be a problem in our society, especially in our school nowadays.