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Who Asked Us? A Young Woman’s Struggle to Succeed in Community College

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Krystal Sipp Posted: Jun 10, 2008

Editor’s note: It’s never easy to do the right thing, and for one young woman who wants to go to college, the challenge is nearly insurmountable. Krystal Sipp, 21, lives in Oakland, California, and is a writer with YO! Youth Outlook.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Since graduating from high school in June 2004, I've faced countless obstacles in trying to find help for college tuition.

After graduating, I couldn’t afford to go to a university, so I attended Marriott Junior College in Oakland, California, and majored in Early Childhood Development. My plans were to open a 24-hour day care center somewhere in the Bay Area, since many people commute to the Bay Area to work and want to find good childcare service in the same area.

But sometimes things do not always go as planned. After already having enrolled and given a schedule of the courses needed for me to have a Day Care license, along came the stress. Prices for the books and course materials were high. But even then, I was so determined to get this done I assured myself that nothing or nobody could get in the way of my success.

So I picked up a part-time job as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant. Working while going to school was not too hard because I knew that it had to be done. It never really affected my performance at school because I always managed to find a quiet place to study or get an assignment done at work.

But just when I thought I had things under control, my living situation became unbearable. I was living with a roommate who partied every weekend, and had people over all the time, and who constantly played loud music.

So I was forced to get out on my own, which created more financial problems.

Once I moved out on my own, I had to pay month-to-month rent, utility bills, and cable payment. I had more responsibilities than ever before.

But even with all the weight on my shoulders, I told myself I was not going to give up. Some people suggested that I take out a student loan.

I’ve known about the loan system, but I've really resisted doing that for many reasons. First, I didn't want my credit to become a mess before I start my business. Also, how would I pay them back, what about the interest rates? And if I am not able to pay it back, will it be forwarded to creditors? This was not an option for me.

When I spoke to my counselor she told me about financial aid. They give you money for schooling, which you do not have to pay back. You just maintain a reasonable G.P.A., and the aid you get is set by your income. This was music to my ears. Thinking to myself there should be no reason why they would deny me, I filled out and submitted all the applications.

As I waited to receive a notice of action paper, I continued to go to class. I would borrow other students' materials, buy used books from campus stores, and copy the assignments from another student's workbook. I even kept in communication with the instructor so that he was aware of my situation.

Three weeks went by, and finally the Financial Aid Office sent me a letter. My application was denied because my parents made too much money. The strange thing is, I’ve never lived with them and was raised by my grandparents. And I knew they wouldn’t help me pay for school. All sorts of thoughts ran through my head, but still, there was never any doubt about me completing my career goals.

The waitress income was only enough for me to pay my monthly rent and utilities bills. So I tried to finish out the rest of the term but the struggle was getting harder by the day. Some days I would just go home and cry. Why was I facing all these problems?

Here I am trying to do the right thing by going to school to seek more knowledge to pursue my dreams, only to be turned down by people who say they are there to assist. There are so many other things I could get snared into doing, unlawful things, doing whatever to get a dollar. But that is not the lifestyle I wanted to live. It is so easy for a person to do nothing, and to accomplish something is a big deal.

In 2005 I stopped going to school and started working fulltime to keep up on my monthly rent and other expenses.

Now that I am older and wiser I know that past struggles make me the person who I am today. I had to put some of my future plans aside for a while but I never threw them away.

For about a year now I have been saving up $10 a week to help for my college funds. I am going to back to Marriot in the fall to finish what I started. I did receive most of those credits for the courses that I had taken back in 2005, which was great since I will not have to start from the beginning.

I have a strong will. I am self-motivated and still determined to succeed. My past experiences have taught me never to give up. Even when one source doesn’t work out, if you keep on going, you will find a solution that is right for you.

Who Asked US Column

Youth Culture

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