For those of you who know me or have caught glimpses of my life through Facebook or blogging, you may already know that I have been selected to participate in Oxford University’s journalism program this summer. This opportunity is not only a colossal honor, but an exceptional milestone in the story of my life. But as with most spectacular opportunities, it comes at price and requires quite a bit of sacrifice. The cost to go is well beyond what I can afford, even with scholarships and financial aid. I’ve contemplated getting a second job, but since I currently have no days off, that doesn’t seem to be a possibility unless I want to give up sleeping altogether. I go to school Monday through Friday and work Mondays, Wednesdays, and all weekend-long, not to mention raising my son in the midst of my jam-packed schedule this semester. As a single-mom, student, and worker, I am stretched to the max both with time and money. I’m working and saving all that I can, but it will not be enough. So, friends and family, if you’d like to help me attend Oxford University this summer, I would be forever grateful.
I will keep this relatively brief to avoid an all out self-promotional sob-story in order to solicit money. But I’ll share part of my story to explain why this opportunity means so much to me.
When I was a child. The world was small. At least, that’s how it seemed. From a young age I developed a very poor self-image that plagued me throughout my life. My opportunities and options for life seemed limited for numerous reasons that do not need to be rehashed here. This perceived smallness of my world lead to defeatism. I did not apply myself during high school and dropped out my senior year. I spent the next few years waiting tables, believing this was the best I could do for myself. Deep inside, I always possessed a passion for learning, thinking, writing and experiencing the diversity our world has to offer. But the unforgiving boot of self-doubt pressed heavily upon the neck of those passions, leaving me resigned to a mediocre life because I erroneously believed I was not intelligent enough or good enough to pursue these repressed goals.
Thankfully, as the years went on, I begin to catch glimpses of a larger world filled with possibilities. Each small accomplishment lead to new goals and new confidence. I earned my high school diploma and the world grew just a little bigger. I enrolled in community college and the world grew even bigger. I excelled academically and was recommended for the Honor’s program. And the world grew bigger. A short story I wrote won first place and was published in a Georgia Magazine. I won awards for my newspaper articles and was offered a job as a reporter for a local newspaper. And the world grew bigger. I was accepted to the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism. And the world grew bigger. Each of these developments seemed an impossibility to the defeated high school dropout I was ten years ago. So here I am, standing on the borders of the only world I’ve ever known, hoping to go further. The opportunity to study journalism at Oxford University holds tremendous meaning for me. It’s not just the amazing experience that lies ahead at a prestigious school in a beautiful foreign country. It’s the affirmation that all the hard work over the past 8 years has not been in vain. It’s a brazen middle finger wagging in the face of the lies I believed about myself for far too long. For me, it’s the world, once again, growing bigger.
If not, just join with me in celebrating this momentous opportunity. Thanks!