Rise Up

So, it’s me again, Christin. Two blogs in two days, I must be on a roll. Jen is working on a speech which I am sure she will tell you more about later. So tonight, you guys are stuck with me.

This last year has been so crazy. Mostly a good crazy. As most of you know, I got accepted into the human services program at WWU where I am pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree. If you would’ve told me 10 years ago I would be in college at almost 40, I would have punched you in the face.

 The truth is, 10 years ago my kids were 5 and 3. I was a single mom, working full-time, struggling to make ends meet. I felt a tremendous amount of pressure and guilt because my babies were in daycare while I was working hard to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Occasionally, mostly at night when they were fast asleep, I would think about how my life would be if I had stuck to the ole’ college thing.

 I had always wanted to go to college since I was a kid. Although not the best in academics, I pulled decent grades and graduated with an average GPA. I just didn’t have the understanding of what to do after high school to get into college. No one in my family had a college degree, so it’s not like I could go ask them. I did enroll in a community college a couple of times, but life always just got in the way. It wasn’t until I had a real reason- my kids- that I decided that when they were just a little older, I would pursue my dreams.

In 2014 that time came. I almost puked my first day of classes. I was nervous about not being able to catch on, being the “oldest” one, but mostly about failing. I didn’t even know what degree I wanted to pursue, I just knew that I had to do it.

3 years later, I graduated with an AA Degree.

Last year I walked across that stage, the first college graduate in my family. I will never forget my grandpa, a 2nd generation Mexican immigrant, sitting in the crowd, proud that his oldest granddaughter had an accomplishment that he himself, dreamt of when he was a little boy.

With doubt and reservation, I didn’t know what to do next.

And then I remembered my own humble beginnings.

 I was standing in line at the grocery store and wondering why my mom was paying for our food with weird looking money. Food stamps. Even at age 8, I knew that we were different. We were poor, even though I had the luxury of having grandparents that spoiled me, I knew that our food and apartment were solely provisional on HUD Housing and Food stamps. There were times I was ashamed that instead of the good cereal, I had to eat the nasty (no sugar) kind because that is all we could get with our Food stamps. “Government cheese,” well we had that too. If you don’t what that is, google it. It’s a cross between rubber and Velveeta, it tasted more like rubber.

At 22, I found myself in the office of a DSHS. I had just found out I was pregnant and needed medical for my unborn baby because she tested positive for Spina Bifida. I had to go to a specialist, which I couldn’t afford with my basic insurance. I had to ask for help, even though my pride was telling me to run the other way. Thankfully, the tests were wrong, and she was born healthy. At 24, I needed help with childcare assistance, because being a single parent with two kids in daycare, isn’t cheap or viable, at least on my barely above minimum wage income.

My point is that everyone needs help at some time in their lives. Some circumstances are unforeseen and maybe even unavoidable, such is life.

That is when I knew I wanted, maybe even needed, to give back in some way. I wanted to tell that single mom that it was going to be okay. Even if for now, she needed a little help, that eventually life would get better. I wanted to be a light in a dark tunnel when a family was needing some basic food help or housing assistance because they were living in their car.

I worked for weeks perfecting my essays to get into the Human Services Program. Without Jen’s editing skills and encouragement, I may have just thrown in the towel.

But I didn’t.

I sent those essays in and I waited. And waited. I got the letter that I was 1 of 25 accepted into the program. I probably cried for about an hour straight. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was capable of doing something important. Something important for other people. I had to do it for them.

Here we are a year later. I just finished my first year in the program and my internship. Both of which have been wonderful opportunities that are stepping stones to my ending goals.

I am taking the summer off to decompress and have a few adventures. I will be working with a pilot program in my community to provide lunches to low-income children. I am super excited about working with these kids because not too long ago, I was one of those kids. I know what they are dealing with and I know some of the hardships they are facing. I also know that they are resilient and that they will thrive.  They will rise up out of their circumstances.

Just like I did.

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