Monday, January 26, 2009

Give Me Patience


The ‘My Class Schedule’ section of the MyCSULB university registration website is looking back at me. It’s on step three of the ‘Drop Class’ menu. That means that my classes have been dropped for the semester. That is, the two classes I thought I’d be able to afford this semester. There is still hope I’ll come up with the money, sign up and be able to breathe again but in the meantime, I’ve got no classes.

And I’m not scared, really. Stressed? Yeah. Scared? Not so much. Every single semester is the same thing. Never the expert in financial management, I always seem to be caught with less money that I thought I had. It’s not like I can fall back on a financial aid check. As an undocumented immigrant, I get none.

Every single semester is the same old routine. As I frantically search for every single option in order to gather a few extra cents, all I do is give myself a headache and sweat way too much in the hand area.

The thing is, I’ve reached the point where I’ve accepted the fact that I may or may not go to school this semester. Or the next semester, for that matter. I’ve not given up yet, but I cannot allow this burden to eat my mind away. It’s not a careless thought or a step closer to being a college drop out. It’s about accepting what I have, what I can accomplish and what I cannot change.

"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

Never the most religious Catholic in my family, I’ve looked back over and over at this quote. I’m not sure if I believe in God, but I am certain that there is a higher being out there who looks after us.

Because my father is a recovering alcoholic, I know that Alcoholics Anonymous attendees have adopted the quote as part of their 12-step program to find a better and sober life.

Like an alcoholic dealing with a disease they cannot seem to shake off, I cannot change the fact that I am an undocumented student. But it’s hard to not want to crawl into a hole when the people working at Brotman Hall give you a certain look when you’re inquiring about deadlines and it’s getting pretty close to the beginning of the semester. A look that says, "Look at that student, leaving things for the last minute. He deserves no help." But, who can blame him? He doesn’t know that I’m an undocumented student who lacks funds to pay his tuition in a timely manner, that I used the $500 scholarship that I won last semester to pay my share of the rent. He doesn’t know that this past Christmas, not a single member of my family got a present from me since I was broke and there was no chance of getting a few extra hours in at work due to this failing economy.

He doesn’t know.

As of today, I’m without classes because I have no money. That simple. But even if I don’t go to school this semester, furthering even more my graduation date, I know that I will be granted some sort of serenity to accept my current situation. Even as I type this, I find some sort of comfort in knowing that there will be more semesters ahead of me.

Students and professors reading this, please don’t feel bad for me. Students, take advantage of every single penny the government gives you to further your education. Professors, teach your students not just the theories of the brown individuals who made it possible for us to walk on this campus, but also about the actions that they can do to change the laws that stop students like me from getting an education.

I may or may not see you next semester, but whatever my faith is, fill your brain with lots of fancy words and stand out from the others. ¶

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