By: Valerie Vargas

Schooling in the United States is quite a double edged sword. When you start school you feel a sense of joy at the new experience. In middle school, that joy slowly shifts to a sense of disdain, and by the time you are in high school, most have reached an all-out sense of loathing.  School is always a non-negotiable responsibility from kindergarten to high school, and then you get to make the decision of where you go after 12th grade. Some go to private or public universities, some go to state schools, some go to community college, and some go to work. No matter where you ended up, over time most young adults experience the epiphany; School is not a responsibility, school is an opportunity!

My whole life, I have had to fight for my education. I was always enrolled in school, but the fight was to be in classes that were stimulating to me. In the 5th grade, I had to test into a program called GATE, which was considered somewhat of honors classes at the elementary level. At the turn of middle school, I again had to test into higher level learning classes for seventh and eighth grade and in high school; I had to test into an honors program called HISP at local C.K. McClatchy High School. A symptom of all this testing to get into better classes was disdain and loathing of the school system.

After high school, I went to local Sacramento Community College because financially this was the only school my parents could pay for. I started Sacramento City College as a part time student/part time employee. My personal frustration at my level of effort during my life to get into good classes and do well, only to transition into community college because of financial aid ineligibility, reached a peak within my second year, fueling me to start work full-time and attend school part time.

After a year of working full-time and going to school part time, my academic frustration decreased and I began to envision an academic goal; to transfer to Sacramento State University and graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

It took that time of putting school last to realize that school wasn’t a responsibility that had to be satisfied. School was an opportunity to expand my knowledge of the world and people around me, an opportunity to expand myself as a person, and an opportunity to create internal happiness by achieving something I set my mind to.

I worked hard to receive my Associate in Arts degree in Psychology and am now preparing to apply for admission into Sac State for Fall 2013. I have cultivated such a sense of pride in myself for continuing school even when I couldn’t see the benefit, for working hard to get an A.A degree, and now have the internal confidence that I will succeed no matter what life throws my way and no matter how long it takes.