It is 6:30 am and my alarm is going after I have already hit the snooze button twice. I get out of bed, get dressed, brush my teeth and grab my breakfast and lunch and walk out of my dorm toward City Convenience for the start of my eight hour shift starting at 7 am. It is still dark out and just about every other senior on campus is peacefully sleeping after another successful night celebrating the second semester.
That scene is pretty much the norm for me every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning as those are the days I work. What about classes you ask? Well, I have all my classes on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am to about 6 pm usually, with the exception of one Monday night class. So why would I put myself through this in my senior year of college, you ask? Well, because I have to.
I am a first generation college student who comes from a lower middle class (to be generous) family. I have been able to attend Boston College in large part due to a healthy grant from Boston College as well as Federal aid and loans while supporting myself throughout college by working a part time job all four years to cover the cost of food and general social activities.
This leaves, in general, not very much free time for anything resembling a social life. However, I was aware this would happen when I decided to enroll in a university that costs as much as Boston College does and knowing I would not be able to receive much aid from home. That being said, it can still be frustrating. Frustrating to have to sacrifice the occasional weekend night to stay in and do homework. Frustrating to not be able to go out with friends every time they go to bars because I know I have to buy groceries for the week. Frustrating to have to wake up early every morning (usually on minimal sleep) to work a dead end job just for a pay check.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Call it the American Dream if you will, but I was always raised to see education as the great equalizer: a way for someone to work hard and succeed no matter what or where they came from. My blue collar parents always instilled in me that they wanted me to have a better life than they did and that education was the way for that happen.
Go ahead and call it sappy if you want, but I have bought into it whole heartedly to justify the hard work of my parents and validate their hope for me. Failure was never really an option for me. And if that means handling a full course load along with a part time is what it takes, then so be it.
Photo Credit: Melanie Burger