*Names have been altered
“There are fifteen grandchildren, but none of us have graduated. My older sister was the first one to finish high school but she never went to college.
With that, I feel like it is really hard to try to set the example in your family. My younger cousin dropped out of school in ninth grade because she didn’t feel like doing it anymore. Her mom gave her the option to drop out or not, but then her older sister started telling her ‘You need to go to school, don’t be like me. I’m my own person and so are you. Is this what you want to be doing for the rest of life? Going job to job?’ Her little brother is thirteen and he never even made it to high school, he dropped out after seventh grade. It is hard because I know my cousin, Carlos, struggles with reading and he was made fun of a lot for it so he felt discouraged. I don’t think my family ever encouraged him and I tried as best as I could, but he already heard it from his teachers and his family, ‘You don’t need high school, all your older siblings never went. They have jobs and they have kids. If they didn’t finish high school, why should you?’
My mom, however, wanted to go to art school but she ended up getting pregnant with my sister so she couldn’t go anymore. She always told us ‘don’t let anything get in the way of you following through with your dreams.’ She had a kid and decided she would never have time for her dream of art school anymore. Now, she’ll see us doing what we love and she’ll encourage us to put all our focus on that one thing. It is heartbreaking because she’ll say ‘I didn’t get to pursue my dream, I don’t want you to feel the same way.’
I think it is also overwhelming. My family is proud of me that I am going to be graduating, but at the same time, it is so much pressure. I also try not to think about the fact that this is also one of the hardest schools in the district. If I am failing a class, they pester me to get that grade up, but at the same time, I’m not too worried about it because I’ve made it this far. But with college, it is a little harder because I have everyone counting on me. Now, I have to be the first one to go to college. I will be attending a two year college then transferring to a university to major in audio engineering.”