What Harvard University Means to Me
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

What Harvard University Means to Me

The Reward of Hope

What Harvard University Means to Me

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This quote by Isaac Newton has a special significance to me.

My father was born in rural, upstate New York. For his entire childhood, he suffered through the day to day, painful reality that is poverty. There was no such thing as "new" clothes, or "new" anything for that matter, save the "new" powdered milk packets my grandmother would pick up from the local food stamp office. His father, my grandfather, was an electrician who had served in the Navy instead of going to college. For half of the year he would be out of work--no construction was going on in winter, which was too bad because the regular periods of electrical failure due to missed bills were sorely felt during those cold months.

My mother was born in Uruguay, a tiny, then under-developed nation in South America. Though her parents fared a bit better monetarily than my father's grandparents, their whole lives were uprooted when they immigrated to California. Learning a second language was hard, but being accepted into a second culture was even harder. My mother's childhood was one of trying to fit in, one of trying to ignore the racial epithets hurled her way and the ingrained prejudices blocking her every turn. Years of moving from town to town, and state to state, were exacerbated by the slow exodus of her relatives back to Uruguay, until only her immediate family remained in southwestern CT.

Who could have blamed either of them if they had thought schooling was unimportant, as many underprivileged and oppressed kids do? I certainly wouldn't have. When you're fighting against yourself and your social position, when you're worrying about getting laughed at on the playground or at the school dance, it's hard to see academics as worthwhile. But they both did.

My father saw academics as a way to show his peers that it didn't matter if his shoes never matched, or if his clothes never fit. My mother used academics to show that the color of her skin wasn't an indicator of her worth. Because in the classroom, how much money your daddy made truly didn't matter. If both my parents could have one thing, just on thing to be proud of, to hold on to, it was going to be their academic strengths.

For my part, I haven't had to live through my parents' struggles. I've never had a job, never doubted I was going to college. I've always worn nice clothes, I speak English, and I'm white as mayonnaise (most of the time). My family now lives a world and a half away from either of my parents' histories. It was easy for me to do well in school, because my lights always stayed on, and I was always well-fed and well-liked by my peers. I had the time to play soccer, and the trumpet, and act in the musical, since I never had to go out and get a job at 16. Don't get me wrong, my life wasn't all peaches and cream. My parents aren't millionaires, and we felt the 2008 downturn in the economy. But they are successful, and most of the worries I've ever had could be more rightly defined as "privileged groans."

When the Harvard acceptance letter came in the mail, I opened it with my whole family -- brothers, sisters, and parents. I called my grandparents, both in Uruguay and in New York. I was happy, of course, but my parents were the truly proud ones, and my grandparents were the ones struck with disbelief. See, for my family, Harvard represents a goal, a dream, that had slowly inched closer every generation. Surely luck had played its ever-important part, but my acceptance was proof that sometimes, hard work pays off.

It may take years, decades. You may sweat and struggle your whole life, like my grandparents and parents, just to watch your children or grandchildren reap the ultimate reward. Harvard means more to them than it ever can, and ever should, mean to me. I inherited all the love and toil the lifted me just high enough to get here. For me, Harvard means an opportunity to keep on loving and keep on toiling. For me, Harvard means hope.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments