For all of us who were first in our families to go to college.
Who worked fast food or retail to make as much extra cash as possible.
Who had to convince our worried immigrant parents to turn over their taxes so we could fill out FAFSA and then shock them with the news that there was free money for college.
For all of us who got that SAT fee waiver and didn’t even know you could prep and be tutored for a test that had questions about yachts.
For those of us who scrambled to get more fee waivers for our college applications because otherwise you were definitely NOT applying to that school.
To those of us who wrote our own essays and didn’t even know anyone that might be able to review it, much less help us rewrite it.
And to those of us who had to convince our parents that it was okay and important to move into the college dorm.
To those of us who knew we couldn’t demand our parents do more than sacrifice everything they already had.
To those of us who figured out how to pass our classes and graduate from college after feeling lost and often like an impostor who won the lottery.
This college admissions scandal is a reminder that the deck has always been stacked against us. And even so, we still made it, because we worked hard and didn’t even know there were shortcuts.
We got to college because of trailblazers who protested, organized, and fought for us. We earned our spots in college because we are industrious, brilliant and excellent and we didn’t need our parents to lie, cheat, steal or open any side doors for us. We succeeded in college with the help of teachers, mentors, peers, and family who cheered us on and believed in us when we didn’t believe in ourselves.
Every day, students are beating the odds, overcoming barriers, and prevailing in an educational system that often does not favor or adequately support students who weren’t born to wealthy and powerful parents. Every day, students are working hard to earn a spot in college and even harder to earn the title “college graduate.”
Every day I am grateful that my journey to and through college and graduate school was successful.
Every day I meet students that inspire me with the hope that someday as Americans, we might realize the promise that opportunity in this country is only based on hard work and talent, not cheating a test, committing fraud or buying your way into a university.
Someday, I hope we will value the incredible feat that it takes to go so far when you have so little.
At the Campaign for College Opportunity I will continue fighting to ensure all students have the opportunity to attend and succeed in college – just like I did.
By Michele Siqueiros, President of The Campaign for College Opportunity