This Freedom Writer recalls being five months pregnant when she graduated from high school. While she had made a plan to go to college, she soon found that she did not have the time or the resources to combine raising a child with attending college. After having a second child, she looked for jobs for six months, but finally decided to invest in her education again. After attending a local design school for a few months, Ms. Gruwell told her about the possibility of attending a fully funded, custom-built program at California State University, Long Beach. She embraced this opportunity and felt that her dream was within reach again.
Despite this student’s various ordeals, she remained aware of the importance of education in her life—on a practical level, as something that could lead to a better career, but also on a personal level, as something that fulfills her intellectual needs. Her capacity to embrace the opportunities that arise and to make the best of a difficult family situation highlights both the unpredictability of life, as well as individuals’ potential to turn their life around.
While she often felt overwhelmed by her many pressures and responsibilities, at home and at university, she was able to enjoy the college experience she had always wanted. When she received her diploma at graduation, she felt that an entire life of opportunities lay ahead of her.
This experience shows that optimism and hope are not only adolescent characteristics. Rather, education has the power to inspire in people of all ages and backgrounds a sense of pride and a belief in their own potential.