I never dreamed of going to college, much less to grad school. What I dreamed of went from being a true-to-herself artist, untamed by the world and enjoying fame and fortune or being a die-hard freedom fighter for people in the Global South who have endured all forms of injustice and suffering. Sometimes I thought I could do both. Because I never had real guidance in the world since I left the cult, I didn’t see how college could help.
How could I dream of college when I wanted to burn reality to the ground? When I read the stories of what happened to the indigenous people of Latin America, it would trigger the pain of injustice I already carried within me so the flames became even greater. On days like this I would commit myself to doing everything in my power to fight for indigenous rights. What I wanted to do was to have an unfettered life where I could really tell the world what I thought. I believed that the college environment would attempt to tame me. …and they might even succeed.
When I finally decided to finish college, it was because no other path was open to me. I was burnt out by working in the food service industry and had done enough research on “how to become a successful artist” to know that I wanted nothing to do with it. Going to college would help me get a better job so I could work on my art in a slow-and-easy manner, with no pressure to show my work to anyone.
The day before I signed up for classes at the community college, a friend who knew me well suggested to me that I should apply to Development Sociology at Cornell University. After reading all the information she gave me, I was convinced that it was, indeed, the best place for me to apply. I had never imagined a program like that existed! Once in the program, I realized I had come home. The professors didn’t attempt to tame me; in fact, it was quite the opposite. They encouraged me. I even got an A on an unfinished research paper because of how deep I dug. (I would have finished it but the end of the semester was upon us and we ran out of time.)
I learned to appreciate academia because of my experience at Cornell. And it was there that I decided I wanted to pursue a master’s, and it had to be in the general area of international affairs. After graduating and researching different programs, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to fighting inequality – a phenomenon I had done in-depth researched about. I looked at inequality at every angle because virtually all my classes touched on it from its perspective – the sociology of medicine, natural resources, international development and of course, the actual course on inequality.
So now I’m gearing up to go get that master’s. I feel excited, ready, grounded. Can’t wait to start!