I took all the paperwork I had as a senior in high school and marched into the financial aid office at the college of my choice holding one of those 8×11 orange-y folders. I remember sitting in the waiting room with my red flip flops on the clean, white tiled floor. It was a hot summery day and I was wearing a skirt with my sun-kissed skin shining under the college lights. I could have been at the beach or the pool but instead I was sitting there waiting to be called; all because I refused to believe my high school counselor when he told me I didn’t qualify for financial aid.
When I was announced I remember feeling a surge of adrenaline rush through me. This was a very important meeting. I was going to go to college and this lady was going to make it happen. Once she met me she might change her mind and help fund my education. I wanted her to meet me in person, the real Angy, not the Angy who left the nine digit number box empty on her college application.
I entered the fresh smelling room filled with cabinets and strict looking chairs, the administrator asked me to type my social security number into the keypad in front of me. Apparently I didn’t have a name, a sense of self or an identity. I was asked for my number as if I were in a concentration camp. I sat there with determination written on my face and told her I did not have one.
I often replay this moment in fast and slow motion, forward and backwards too because here is when I decided what path my life would take. This moment pushed me into action. This meeting was meant to happen, to make or break me. The administrator looked up at me, annoyed, and told me that coming into her office was a waste of her time as well as mine if I knew I did not qualify for help. Her words were knives being stabbed into my heart. She quickly told me that without my own out of pocket cash I would not be able to go to school and I might as well look into other options. No help or pamphlets were offered to guide me. There were no business cards or staff members I could talk to about this. She dismissed me as quickly as I had come in and called the next student over while I just stood there in shock; I guess she didn’t realize my broken-cut up heart bleeding there on those white tiles, or she did see and did not care.
Months later I found myself at an awards ceremony receiving a scholarship for all my hard work. You see, I had gone into hulk mode looking for scholarships and staying up all night studying for my regents exam as well as finishing my application essays. This scholarship helped me pay-off my first college semester, an award that I did not see coming my way.
I don’t know if I would have been able to go to college without that scholarship and I strongly believe everyone deserves to go to college as well. That is why I ask you to donate to the New York State Youth Leadership Council’s scholarship fund. They offered it to me once and now I want to offer that same happiness to someone else. Thank you.