In my younger and more vulnerable years, I was a fourteen-year-old freshly anointed high schooler who self-identified as a volleyball player. Looming over my horizon was the great American childhood duress known as Advanced Placement, a cruel concoction of upper division collegiate-esque courses courtesy of the College Board’s good heart; pass a few exams with a score of 4 or higher, and your immigrant working-class parents will pay less money for you to run away from home to read textbooks near Lake Michigan. I did not, by any means, attend a college prep academy. But I wanted to. I went to a public school where Polish, Spanish, and Arabic spat, rolled, danced merrily and skipped corners down its hallways. I pressed my bony knee against my locker while cranking a combination lock that would only open if I churned numbers that were not printed on the card stamp from the main office. And I was eternally grateful for a teacher who physically separated myself from a classroom bully by moving his desk 20 feet away from mine to the far back corner in a pseudo-solitary-confinement (cue MC Hammer’s U Can't Touch This). I was basically Rachel Berry crossed with Hermione Granger, but nowhere near as pretty as Lea Michele or Emma Watson.
My experience was not universal in this school, for there were the select few who were not first generation, spoke no language other than English, effortlessly floated in sweatpants on Thursday and two-hundred-and-fifty-dollar homecoming poofs with no coupons on Saturdays, complained that their dads wouldn’t let them drive his cherry mustang, and texted their mothers about soccer practice via pretty white iPhones they had been accustomed to since the seventh grade. Certain things are indeed parceled out unequally at birth, but I figured as long as I could get into to a pretty university near pretty Lake Michigan, nothing else would ever matter.
I will be graduating in a few weeks with my undergraduate degree in English, history, and women’s and gender studies from a pretty university near pretty Lake Michigan. In June 2020, I will receive my master’s in education from the very same pretty university. I will have 2 degrees at 22 years old from the alma mater of my favorite English teacher, whose parting advice was, “teach them that it’s important to be creative, and necessary to help others.”
As I sit and type this, I am on my lunch break from a 9-5 shift at the front desk of my work-study. In addition to my financial aid package, I work roughly 18-20 hours a week to fill in the gaps and shrink my out-of-pocket costs to the best of my ability. I tutor and mentor first generation students not too unlike myself, helping them manage their course load, hunt for internships, and just be a friend that they can talk to. Donald Trump wants to tax students like me and my friends at otherworldly rates originally meant for trust fund babies. Passing the Kiddie Tax will mean that tax rates for student scholarships will skyrocket to astronomical proportions. In the past, a student from a household with a joint income of $50,000 who was awarded a scholarship that covered $11,500 in room and board would be taxed at their parents’ rate of 12 percent. Under the new law, that money would be taxed up to 35 percent.
To add to our academic woes, a plethora of recent Trump nominees have given sketchy responses to their views regarding Brown v Board of Education, a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Plessy v Ferguson and desegregate American schools. Since April 2018, more than two dozen executive and judicial nominees have declined to endorse the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision.
Additionally, Trump wants to pulverize the Pell Grant to fund a NASA trip to the moon and maybe the planet Mars; The administration proposed a budget amendment this week that would transfer nearly $4 billion from a surplus in the Pell Grant program, which is meant to help low-income students pay for college. I really love my Pell Grant. I could write sonnets about it. I honestly couldn't care less about a fat, dusty man’s fascination with a dusty red planet. Maybe that’s where Trump gets his cheeto hue from; he wants to harvest the red planet’s dust for a personalized pressed powder. Easy, breezy, beautiful: Crazy Goon. By Donny J. Available everywhere but Macy’s, because they dumped him a while ago.
Maybe it's because I am a Millennial, and we totally complain about everything, but this is seriously, undeniably outrageous.