Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Portrait: Spanish Fork, Utah

I read about Cait from Massachusetts and decided now was the perfect time to paint my own portrait. I am the girl that no one thinks exists: I am a 23 year old undergraduate student with no debt whatsoever. By August I will have my bachelor’s degree in English with High Honor’s. I have paid for every cent of my education in cold hard cash. There is one highlight to the start of a new semester and that is withdrawing around $2,000 from my savings account and handing it over to the Cashier’s Office on campus. I work three jobs and take around 18 credit hours of school. I pay for my car, insurance, phone, food, clothing, tuition, books, student fees and everything else. By the grace of my good parents, I am able to sleep in the basement. I owe nothing for my education except perhaps some overdue attention to my social life and the ones I love. The little debt I have is wrapped up in a gas efficient, mediocre car. Some could say that I have it quite nicely.

Truth is, I’ve worked hard to be broke-ass poor and owe nothing. My fiancĂ© makes perhaps the most sacrifices when it comes to my schedule. I am busy 24/7 between a large extended family, work, school and him. Soon I will begin looking for jobs. In Utah, women rarely find huge success in business. Rather they find their success in their homes with their spouce and children. I’ve known for years that my lot in life would be different. Eventually Adam and I will have children, but until then, and perhaps even after, I will be the main bread-winner. My chances are slim but I am a fighter.

English majors have it tough even in the best economy. Many think we’re trained to read books and spell words correctly. Unfortunately this is what President Bush would call a “misunderestimation.” In the past four years I have been trained to think critically about most everything around me including but not limited to books. I have been taught that language and its precision is necessary for a business to survive. I have learned that the key to success comes from dedication and excellent communication. This makes me valuable to companies needing someone in communication, administration and public relations. Yet, CEO’s and HR Personnel end up throwing away the English major’s application for such jobs in exchange for those who picked business, communication or HR majors. The problem is that these majors don’t focus on the same critical skills that I’ve been working in for 4 years now.

My choices stand thusly: Another bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Grad School for a Master’s or PhD program, Law School, Hope of finding a job that actually utilizes my degree or working the three jobs I have now. The economy isn’t getting better and many students are staying in school to ride out the bad situation. I just don’t think I’ll be able to do this along with them.

I have busted my ass to be where I am today. Had I the sufficient income, my credit is such that I could buy a house. This would help the economy as I’d have to outfit the house as well as pay for the property taxes etc. But how can you buy a house if you don’t have the kind of job that allows for such an expense? I’m caught in a catch-22 while others around me are struggling to keep up on their own payments. I am much better off than a lot are. And I really have nothing much to bellyache about except for the prejudices held against the major that I picked and paid for. I have enough in the checking account to make my payments and a little extra to stash in savings for next semester. I work at a job that is unlikely to let me go despite how horribly I hate it. As my 82 year old great granny would say “Thank God you have a job.” And I do.

Spanish Fork, Utah.