Monday, February 16, 2009

Portrait: Santa Clarita, California

I’m twenty-years-old, and don’t know what I’m going to do when I graduate. I know what I want to do. I chose English as my major because I want to bring my love of literature to high school students. I want to go to LAUSD. Now that teachers are being laid off every day, now that budgets are being slashed (again), now that no one’s hiring for English, only math and science…I don’t know how I’m going to live after college. I can’t get a ‘real job’, one that pays me more than ten an hour, because I don’t have a degree. Getting that degree is increasingly more difficult, because I don’t have the money which would allow me to get the most out of my education. I commute an hour to school every day, and an hour back every night. Unlike most of my peers, I’m not eligible for financial aid—my parents make enough money to pay my tuition, so the system doesn’t care about the strain that those costs put on the rest of our lives.

In comparison to what a lot of people are going through, these concerns don’t seem so weighty. If I lose my job (which I very well may; more people are starting to see that Gymboree classes are luxury items), I will still have the same roof over my head. We can afford to pay our bills every month, which is sadly more than some of my friends can say. But the previous generations have a habit of saying that the children are our future, that everything rests in the hands of the next generation….well, I am the next generation, and I don’t know where to begin. How am I going to finish school? A Masters Degree is almost a necessity; how will I pay for that? Where will I get the money to pay off my student loans? How will I ever be able to afford an apartment, a house, a family? When I move out, am I going to be living from paycheck to paycheck? What if there’s a hiring freeze, or what if teachers go on strike? How am I going to make a life for myself when other people’s lives are falling apart? If someone could tell me where my generation is supposed to go from here, I’d very much appreciate it.

Santa Clarita, CA