By ALICIA PRUETT, Ranger Reporter:
Two years ago, I talked to my husband about going back to school. It seemed like a no brainer. School was going to help take our family off of food stamps and get us out of poverty. At least that was my thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, the money was only one aspect of it. The self-esteem alone to me would be worth it. I wanted to change the way my kids looked at me.
I knew that they loved me, but I wanted them to be proud of me as well. I was tired of telling my kids, “We can’t afford it.”
I wanted my kids to be able to get the same things that the other kids get and do the same things that other kids do. Whether that meant Christmas, birthdays, or “just because” presents or simply being able to go out to eat… as a parent, you never want to see your kids go without.
But for every step I take forward to get away from this life, the state makes me take two steps back. Because of my class load and caring for my young children, I cannot work. My husband is disabled, so we struggle to pay rent.
Local organizations tell me that if I were homeless, they could help me—provided that I drop out of school. If I drop out, I return to the trap of a minimum wage job with no hope of escape.
The system seems to be set up to keep people living in poverty. It’s like being on a merry-go-round. I need and want help getting off of this thing. How do you make them understand that the system isn’t for you?
The politicians set up the system. On paper, it looks good, but they don’t have to live within the rules they set. They can’t begin to understand that paper and real life seldom meet. If they had to live on minimum wage and raise a family, they would see it cannot be done.
Give each of them random problems such as the car breaking down or a sick child who you can’t take to school and you don’t have child care. You miss one day of work and because of that you can’t pay the light bill or rent. Then what? Handle that.
I don’t want you to think that we haven’t had help, we have… from an unlikely source–the college itself. Coming to Amarillo College has been the best thing, other than my husband and kids, that’s happened to me. The staff makes me feel like I can do this… and you can too.
I know that there are some of you reading this that are going through tough times and facing what seems like an impossible task. I want you to know that you are not alone. There are people out there who can help you through this. Trust me, they are out there.
Keep your chin up. I believe in you. You don’t have to go at it alone. Remember there was a reason why you started this. Keep it in the front of your mind. Draw a picture and keep it with you. Do what you have to do to keep going.
Remember, by doing this you are changing your life, your family’s lives. This is all worth it. That light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train, truck or car getting ready to run you down. It’s the goal of a degree.