The 9/11 Kindergarten Class Is All Grown Up

The 9/11 Kindergarten Class Is All Grown Up

Here's what it has felt like for some.
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I remember three things from September 11: being pulled out of kindergarten early, my father seeing smoke above Manhattan from where he worked on Northern Boulevard, and a lot of worry about my mother, who, at the time, was an American Airlines employee at JFK Airport.

Even still, the latter events I didn't quite comprehend until I was older. Being five-years-old during a major terrorist attack doesn't leave you with vivid details to recall, just a general smoggy, chaotic ambiance.

I think it's fair to say that despite my young age, I am able to recall scarce events from 9/11 given my geographic and social ties to the region affected. Most kids my age at the time probably didn't have much of a clue as to what was happening. Hearing stories from older adults, recalling exactly where they were when the tower fell, is still startling to me. I'm glad I was so young, so blissful and naïve.

But now, I feel anything but because the kindergarten class of 9/11 has grown up. We're now sophomores in college, finding ourselves on the brink of more terror, more tension and a lot of uncertainty. We've grown alongside the rise of information technology and the rise of ISIS. So sorry if we come off as “narcissistic," it's a lot to handle.

Being so young in 2001, I really could not relate to any of the fear that Americans were burdening -- the quiet hush that laid over the Big Apple, the shock and awe of new security measures. By the time this was the “new norm," it was the only norm I knew. My peers are used to being body checked into concert venues. They don't blink at the sight of metal detectors in high school lobbies. We can open our bags and dump our opened water bottles before we are told to.

In 2016, we are turning 19, 20 and 21. We have our own minds, our own goals, and perspectives. With all this independence, we have paid a price. The curtain has been drawn. We know what is going on in the world. You don't need to tell some of us twice. Guns, ISIS, suicide-bombers, quasi-massacres, plane scares – when has there been a day recently when this has not been heard?

When I heard my parents and their friends tell me about 9/11, where they were, how they felt, the days and weeks that were to follow, I could never imagine such a thing. Last week I was walking through Times Square, enjoying the pre-New Year's Eve festivities with a few friends. I'll turn 20 next month, I'm enjoying college break, I'm young and free and the whole world seems to be in front of me.

Yet, on a Manhattan street corner, bursting with tourists, trying to hold on to my friends as to not lose each other, it hit me. It could happen. Now. Why shouldn't it? There were threats made. It's New Year's Eve. This is a prime location that would result in massive victims. Who is stopping them?

I get hit with this wave every now and then -- in a movie theater, driving down the highway, walking across campus, checking in at the airport. I shouldn't have to feel like this, but like I've said, this is our new normal.

But to answer my own question as to who is stopping them, I believe there are people out there fighting the bad guys, as cliché as that sounds. And not just through war or arms, but through legislation and diplomacy. Your everyday heroes and do-gooders. Don't forget that these people make up most of our crazy, lovely world.

Cover Image Credit: k2radio.com

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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It Took Me 4 Years And $100K To Realize Why Poor Kids Like Me Don’t Go To College

But now that I know, I can't get it out of my mind.

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I grew up poor.

There, I said it. It's out in the open now—I don't come from a family that has a bunch of money. In fact, my family doesn't have much money at all. My single mother works in fast food and does a DAMN good job trying to support herself and the rest of us. A lot of the food my family gets comes from food pantries. We have received government assistance before. I grew up poor, but I haven't let that define me.

Especially when it came to going to college.

I didn't want to let my economic background hold me back from my potential. I wanted to be the first person on both sides of my family to receive my college degree. I wanted to get a better paying job and moving up in socioeconomic status so I don't have to be the "poor" girl with the "poor" family all my life. I'm not really ashamed of coming from a poor family, but I also don't want to be poor my entire life.

For a majority of my college career, I wondered why there weren't many poor students around me at college. I go to a public university, and it's just the same price as any other state school really. Coming from a lower income home, I did receive a lot of assistance, and without it, there's no way in hell I could be here. I know that many other lower-income students can get this same assistance, which really made me wonder why there was such a lack of other poor kids around me.

I mean, everyone posts videos from their nice, upper-middle-class homes on Snapchat over holiday breaks while I go back home to the trailer park.

Everyone can call mom or dad and ask for money when things get rough while I pay for 100% of the things I own because my mother simply cannot afford it.

Everyone walks around in their name-brand clothes while I'm rocking Walmart knockoffs. It's not something I thought about for a couple years in college, but once I noticed it, I couldn't think of anything else.

It took me nearly all four years of college to realize why there's such a lack of poor students at my average, public university. Poor students are set up for failure in college. It's almost designed to be a survival of the fittest when it comes to us lower-income students, and those of us who are deemed the fittest and do make it to graduation day are typically stuck with a lot of debt that we don't have the financial intelligence or support to even think about paying off.

Poor students are in the minority in college, and when you're in a minority anywhere, surviving can be difficult. When it costs $100 just for a 5-digit code to do your homework, it can be hard to stay in school. When the cost of living on campus is $10,000 or rent for an apartment is nearly $500 a month, it can be hard to stay in school. When you don't have a car because you can't save up the money for one and your parents can't help you, it can be hard to stay in school. When you're forced to get a minimum wage, on-campus job that limits your to twenty hours a week, it can be hard to stay in school. When all of your friends don't understand why you can't go out to eat or to the bar every weekend, it can be hard to stay in school. All of these reasons add up to the main reason why poor kids don't go to college—the odds are stacked against us.

I never had shame in my socioeconomic status until I went to college. In my hometown, I wasn't much less than the norm. Now, my home life is drastically different than that of all of my friends. I know that this is something that is never going to change because when I enter the workforce in less than a year, I'll be going in as the first member of my family with a college degree. People will treat me differently when I tell them this, even if I don't want them to. People will treat me differently when they ask where my parents work and I tell them McDonald's. It's an unfortunate reality that I cannot control.

It took me nearly all four years to realize why poor kids don't go to college, but now that I know, I can't get it off my mind.

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