Yesterday the following Facebook status showed up on my newsfeed, from a friend and college student named Pedro. With his permission, this is what it said (slightly shortened):
Yesterday, my accounting professor asked one of my classmates to read a paragraph out loud from the book. She, the classmate, read a few words and then started to cry.
As I was leaving class I asked her if she was okay, to which she replied, in tears, that her father had just passed away on January 31st, and that, as she read that paragraph, she saw the number 31 and associated it with him, so she cried...
She then told me how her mom is only able to work part time and that she also has two little sisters to feed; she is the breadwinner, working to keep the family breathing - and she also goes to school full-time.
Before that incident I was feeling exhausted - as if my problems were too big. I was feeling tired for having to do so much at once.
But that story shifted my perspective...I realized that even when I think I'm having a bad day, there is always someone out there with a problem that is bigger than mine. And they are still standing.
As I was scrolling through Facebook, this status really touched me and I wanted to share it with you. I give Pedro all the credit for this - so well said.
I love community colleges precisely because it is a place where women like the one in this story have a chance to remake their lives. But it doesn't mean it's easy. I admire community college students because it's so hard. Many have to overcome so much just to get to a place that many take for granted.
And it's easy to take stuff for granted. So the next time you are struggling in school, wondering how you will manage, remember that you are not alone, and that you can succeed despite any setback.
And like Pedro did by asking that girl if she was okay, reach out to the people around you in class. You never know what people are going through or how your kindness could help keep them in school.
Because, to me, the best part of community college, is the community.