College where they need it the worst

From the Moveable Type blog, April 4, 2008.

It is absolutely essential for me, in times like these, to remember how good I have it.

After an up-and-down week, where I still can’t find a way to make the highs anywhere near as high as the lows, my random bouncing around the internets brought me to desperately needed perspective, in the form of two stories from Bunker Hill Community College written by Wick Sloane.

The first, written last year this time, is a piece mourning the death of a 19-year-old student named Cedirick Steele and how this impacted the English class he had been taking. The second, written today, is a broader picture of the experience at BHCC, captured in single snapshots, nothing terribly coherent because “these pages keep spinning out in rage and gibberish. I can’t circle longer, looking for the perfect storyline on this problem ‘too big to be seen.'”

Here’s the part of the second piece that absolutely killed me (edited so that Baptist-college-stylee SonicWall doesn’t start hating my guts – go back to InsideHigherEd for the unedited version):

Slide Five: A Thursday last spring. A textbook publisher has brought lunch for two students whose essays she wants to buy for a new book. On Tuesday, one student had e-mailed his lunch order. Thursday morning, he canceled. He had to quit school. No explanation.

Slide Six: The final paragraph of his essay.

“My stomach begins to churn as I start the last phase of my pilgrimage. The last phase consists of walking out of the train station, down the walkway and into BHCC. I compare this walk to the walk death row inmates take before they are executed. As I take this walk I begin to ask myself, “What the f___ am I doing here?” Within seconds my sensible half answers, “You’re here so that you don’t have to live like the rest of your family. The rest of your friends are in school, and lord knows half of them aren’t half as smart as you. Lastly, we already paid for this s___ so get it done, lil’ n___a.” With BHCC right in front me, I take a deep breath and end this pilgrimage by entering the Mecca that will start me on the path of reaching my pinnacle.”

Why is it that the people who need education the most desperately – and who know it, and are hungriest for it – are the very same people who find it the hardest to get?

(And, of course, this is “first in a series.” I’ll be reading this some more.)


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