This past Friday I had the privilege of speaking on a panel with the First Year Programs office. The focus was around preparing high school students for college and why there is such a disconnect. City Tech faculty, as well as some high school educators were in attendance. Professor Jennifer Sears invited me to sit on the panel as the student voice after being her ENG 1101 classes peer mentor this past fall.
I was pretty nervous to join the panel not only because I was the only student but because at one time I was the student that this particular panel was discussing. My own transition to college was difficult to say the least and I wondered if things would have been different for me had there been so many people trying to fix the problem when it was me who was drowning. I was glad though, that I was able to speak up and represent those students who feel like the system fails them and that nobody really cares if they make it or not.
Being asked to speak in a room full of educators is an honor, but it is also nerve-wracking to say the least. It’s an odd space to be in because although I am a student I am also a professional, having worked in my current job for 6 years as a manager. I can identify with the student struggle with the issues I deal with as a CUNY student but I can also identify the red tape and loopholes large organizations present you with that make it hard to reach every single student.
I used to wonder why I ended up walking the path that I did, albeit some of it was my own doing, I still wondered what fate had in store for me. I think I was meant to struggle a little bit longer because I would eventually be able to advocate for others. For those who can’t or are too afraid I was able to sit on that panel and say this is what’s wrong this is what we can do better for them. Every person is not born with an enormous voice or will power, some have to be nurtured and worked with to get to that point, and if my struggles can help someone else get there, I am okay with it.