What barriers have you had to overcome in order to gain an education?
Picture me, the morose infant, drowning in copious amounts of wedding lace fabric. I am perched on my mother’s hip as she chats amiably to another guest. Eyes pinched and lips puckered, I am a tempest held at bay only by the bottle of Coca-Cola I am slurping from. A remarkable relationship is born: I guzzle three more bottles during the occasion alone and nearly three hundred more over the course of my childhood and early adolescence.
My childhood obsession with Coca-Cola stemmed from my efforts to establish personal and social balance. I coveted the looks of the girl on the cherry-red billboard above the convenience store: all lightweight curls and effervescent mien, leading a life of bold Technicolor. When I needed to raise funds for my secondary school education, I thought of nothing other than the cherry-red complex on Alexander Road that claimed to be the Coca-Cola offices. My optimism was boundless: I put together a package that showed my academic merit and passion for engineering. I embodied the Coke mission statement; I expected that this similitude would fizz off my package and compel the management to invest my goals. I realized, from my mother’s sad smile when I presented my plan, that this would not be the case.
I did not send the package but I persisted in blind faith until I read an article by the Economist that shone light on the mindset of venture capitalists: “If he’s a white male nerd that dropped out from Harvard or Stanford, chances are that he’s going to be successful.” I am a black, female graduate from high school. When the prospects of a college education appeared on the horizon, I stood alone, with neither mentor nor entity to support me. I eventually found a group of women who shared my seemingly unfeasible goal of gaining an international education. They bought the crafts I sold to raise funds for my ACT exam and I compiled a guide to broader financial and scholarship resources they could benefit from.
I ultimately established the College and Career Access Committee as a means to enable female, African students attain their goals within an interdependent network. Once hesitant, I am now confident I can realize my aims for urban renewal through Civil Engineering. Nothing will stand in my way: neither statistic, nor imperceptible ceiling. No construct, no entity.