It Shouldn’t Be About The Lottery Of Life


November 3, 2017. Senior Night

Jacquie Hernandez

“It’s okay to go to beauty school,” was something my mama always told me. “It’s safer that way.”

Safer, easier, cheaper. She meant well, especially when the cost of a year of college far exceeds the salary we’re living off.

Like many other students here, with senior year quickly coming to an end, the cost of college looms over us.

I’m lucky, really. I’m lucky that my life of poverty—of food banks, of second-hand clothes, of having to support myself ever since I was old enough to work—has become a starting story of “rags-to-riches.” While the reality, the possibility of ever going to college were slim to none. With anything less than a full-ride, my education would’ve stopped on June 1, with me holding my high school diploma.

So in the Fall of 2018, I’ll be attending TCU on a full-ride as a STEM Scholar.

Other students aren’t so lucky.

I’m aware of the advantage I have. A child of two Mexican immigrants, ethnically Native American, a part of America’s lowest 20 percent, and much more. To the eyes of admissions, I’m a full package of the word diversity.


“Student loans,” any college bound student would say when asked, then mildly joke, “that I’ll never be able to pay back.”

I starved while peers enjoyed their new game systems. I worked nearly 40-hour weeks to pay for school fees, while some of my peers got gifted new cars. I’ve done many things in this wild discrepancy between I and them, yet I can only feel shame for a life I never chose, never deserved, just for the phrase free college.

Perhaps it’s fair, perhaps it’s not.

Honestly, money wasn’t the issue nor the biggest difference between my life and the lives of my peers. It’s not about the who-earned-what. The problem lies within the American college system itself, where higher education has become a class gateway where only the winners of the lottery of life can truly benefit. Yet, the middle class—the prevailing majority of students of Chisholm Trail—have to run leagues to just afford. Those who are just as smart, just as hardworking as I, find a gate of your family just makes too much but not enough for an education.

Student loans have become normalized, whereas I escape them because of the suffering in my life. It shouldn’t be the way it is, but without a change the cost of college will raise a new generation in debt. Another turn of the cycle, and just like that, the American Dream becomes further from reach.