This Freedom Writer describes leaving college in Boston after a year. After being considered smart all her life, she arrived at university feeling unprepared, realizing that everything felt too difficult for her. She sometimes tried hard to study but would receive low grades, which destroyed her self-esteem. At the same time, she missed her home and her family dearly.
Without the support of her family, this student found herself struggling to maintain a sense of self-confidence. It appears that it is this factor—not necessarily the mere difficulty of classes—that led her to quit college, as she found herself unmotivated and despondent.
She describes the alienation that she felt in Boston. She recalls entering the subway one day and noticing an old lady step back in fear, as though this student were a threat. Even at her supposedly progressive, prestigious college, she felt labeled as “the black girl.” She soon realized that she was depressed and returned to Long Beach in the summer, defeated. She refused to see her friends, even the Freedom Writers, and left college without telling her best friend there. She has only recently begun regaining self-confidence, as she has earned her bachelor’s degree, and she feels that she is wining a slow battle against self-doubt.
This student’s experience reveals that academic prestige and political awareness do not always go hand-in-hand, as the Freedom Writers proved more committed to racial equality than these equally intelligent college students. This student, however, has not given up on her education and trusts that the future will allow her to renew her strength—in the same way, perhaps, that Ms. Gruwell’s “Toast for Change” gave students a second chance, allowing them to dramatically alter their life vision.