September 20, 2016

IT’S ONLY LOGICAL | Pangs of Privilege

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Part 1:

“Heh, Sam!?”

I bounded up the staircase on all fours, caught the baluster at the top and swung into my parent’s bedroom, gliding on the furnished wood floor Risky Business style. A small pair of brown eyes just barely peaked out over the king-sized bed from the other side of the room.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Uh. I got lost…”

I looked at him, puzzled for a few moments, before shrugging and clambering back down the stairs. There were Legos that had yet to be assembled. My mom came in a couple hours later offering and then politely insisting on giving Kyle a ride home, much to his protest.

As we pulled up to his house my face started to flush and I nervously glanced back at Kyle. Globules of tears were welling in his eyes. He quietly slipped out of the car and we waved to his mom who stood under the awning of a trailer home no bigger than my parent’s bedroom before driving off in a new Toyota Prius. Kyle had four brothers too.

Part 2:

When I got accepted into Cornell I smiled so much my face hurt. I couldn’t stop. I just sat there lying on the floor with aching cheeks, periodically getting up to refresh the page to see if it wasn’t a mistake. For the next two weeks I was on Cloud 9 and nothing could ground me. I drifted between my classes in a daze, chatting with friends here and there, dodging homework guiltlessly. I started skipping Spanish to hang out with my math teacher in the afternoon. He used to have an entire chalkboard designated ‘#QuoteWall’ on which the seniors recorded timeless proverbs and jests. The only rule for the quote wall was you were not allowed to write your own quotations; a couple of peers jokingly wrote one for me.

“Both my parents are doctors so I can go to any college I want” – $am Brantly.

Part 3:

A couple of months ago a friend and I had a talk about our future ambitions as we walked down Main St. in my hometown. Casually, she mentioned that it was her dream to be an English professor at Stanford. I froze up for a few moments. Laura comes from an extremely poor family out west who’s barely scraping by on a daily basis and Laura herself has had little to no exposure to the realities of academia. I, on the other hand, have had the privilege growing up with two parents who were closely tied to the local university. I’ve seen countless graduate students mauled by brutally competitive environments and crushed by ever-dimming prospects of employment. I started thinking about how her family could possibly withstand the financial strain of another six years of schooling and the difficulties of finding a job with a doctorate in literature. Then my thoughts turned to her grades. She just doesn’t have the grades to get into a graduate program that would give her a proper shot at being employed at any institution, Stanford aside. Yet, I couldn’t really say anything about it. Who was I, who never had the slightest financial worry, whose parents regularly promise to help support through graduate school, I, who has reaped the countless social benefits of an affluent upbringing; who was I, to tell an ambitious young girl that her dreams were entirely unrealistic and to give up. But everything I thought… it was only logical…

“You should probably talk to your academic advisor or something.”