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

What Harvard University Means to Me

The Reward of Hope

67
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.
Featured

Pride Doesn't End With June

Here's seven ways you can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community after pride month ends.

2091
Pride Doesn't End With June
Photo by Sara Rampazzo on Unsplash

As July begins, the month we call 'Pride Month' is technically over. However, just because pride month is over doesn't mean we can't still show pride and support for our LGBT brothers and sisters. This article here will tell you seven ways to be a supportive ally to the LGBTQ+ all year round.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

My 4th Of July Look

MISS SWISS - Glamour On The Go

2558
My 4th Of July Look

Whether I can get to the beach this weekend or I'm just at a friend's pool, I know I'll be picture ready. Fourth of July weekend following so close behind Pennsylvania lifting the state mask mandate has me anticipating many smiling faces, eager to capture the moment.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me

When i die spread my ashes at the Bubba Gump at Citywalk

2383
Eat and Drink Your Way Through Los Angeles With Me
Hailey Hastings via Canva

First and foremost, I am a foodie. In any city that I am in, the first thing I want to know is where the best places to eat and drink are, and I imagine a lot of you are the same. Los Angeles happens to be one of the greatest food cities in the United States, so it's only right that I present you guys with this list. These are the best places (that I have tried) in Los Angeles to eat or drink.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Your Guide to Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well.

3209
Dryness-Preventing Nutrition

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of women over the age of 50 struggle with uncomfortable symptoms due to vaginal dryness. This is an extremely common issue for those entering menopause, but it can also affect those of a younger age as well. Common issues like UTI’s, yeast infections and medications can cause vaginal dryness but one of the big culprits for both cause and prevention is diet. Supplementing your diet with nutrients and vitamins to encourage your body to produce the hormones it needs are one of the many home remedies for dryness. There are many factors that can cause dryness and the uncomfortable symptoms that come along with it, and diet is one of the big culprits on the list. Keep reading to learn about adopting nutrition habits that both alleviate and prevent dryness!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Artificial Intelligence: the Upward Downfall

We are walking a dangerous road with AI

4625

“Alexa, I want the truth.”

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments