May 062004
Authors: Willow Welter

The opportunity to earn a higher education did not come to me


When my mom opened the box of my graduation announcements, she

cried. My family is very proud of me because I am the only person

out of the six of us to go to college. I think the fact that I’m

the first one has made me much more appreciative of the college

education I have earned.

Our family is not rich by any means; my dad works for a roofing

company and my mom stayed at home to raise my sisters, brother and

me. I went through high school hearing classmates talk about

college, and I never thought I would have the chance to go. I

always assumed, based on the “money situation” my parents were

frequently worrying about, that college was out of reach. I also

assumed my 2.6 GPA would never be enough.

I tried anyway, and with loans and money from my Grandpa and

Dad, attended CU in the Springs for two years before transferring

to CSU about three years ago to major in journalism.

Growing up, constantly hearing about my dad’s struggles to pay

the bills and my mom’s struggles to raise the kids while he was

working out-of-state Monday through Friday. I promised myself two

things: I would repay my parents for all they had done for me and I

would have a career I enjoyed, never having to rely on anyone else

for money.

It has not been easy, although I have definitely had my share of

fun during college. The friends I have made, knowledge I have

gained and diverse opinions people have exposed me to have all

contributed to “the college experience.”

But I did feel somewhat sorry for myself (stupidly) when it

seemed like “everyone at CSU” was going to the Bahamas for Spring

Break while I was going home to Colorado Springs to work at Chuck

E. Cheese’s so I could attempt to pay rent and bills.

I think I developed an ulcer from the guilt over borrowing my

parents’ money when I couldn’t make rent (which was pretty much

every month) when I knew they were struggling to pay their own.

$30,000 of debt and tons of my dad’s money later, I get to put

on that black robe and funny hat to walk down the aisle. I’m not

sure if I will be walking toward a satisfying job or if I will be

dressing up as a giant mouse the rest of my life at Chuck E.

Cheese’s (which isn’t so bad, except the time when an old guy died

in the sky tubes or when kids would barf in the ball pit), but I

graduated from college.

That makes me feel better than the Brave Little Toaster when he

finds his owner after a tumultuous journey with other talking

appliances. I have just finished my greatest accomplishment thus

far in my 22 years, and it has created so many more possibilities

for the future. That is something no lack of money, discouragement

or the threat of being a giant mouse can ever take away from


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