A Dream Recognized

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As I rummage through the numerous piles of college applications I have yet to complete and make one final attempt to filter through the layers of sticky notes scattered across my desk, part of me wonders whether attending college is truly worth the hassle. Oddly enough, the words of a former teacher I had forgotten echoed in my mind, “Amber, if you dream big and work hard your dreams will always come true.” Closing my eyes, I can almost picture her buttery brown eyes staring down at me and even smell the faintest scent of the peppermints she always kept in her pockets. Mrs. Brown, my seventh grade English teacher, was always encouraging and supportive of all her student’s dreams and ambitions.
Still, as a young girl it was not easy for me to believe in the notion that all dreams come true, but now as I shade in the empty bubble next to Social work I begin to think about the dreams of all the children that may never come true. Last summer, I saw a news report describing the death of a seven year old girl that was left alone in her mother’s car for several hours in a school parking lot. Yet, instead of feeling the tiniest flicker of remorse I quickly turned the channel in search of the next episode of “The Simpson’s”. It was not until I saw the report again three days later that I realized just how desensitized I had become and suddenly felt a dark veil of shame sweep over me. While watching the camera do a close-up of the girl’s mother, I noticed the light pink leotard and matching ballet slippers the little girl wore. Quickly wiping away my tears, I tried not to think that her dream of one day dancing was no longer a reality. Remembering the devastated look in her mother’s eyes reminded me of the expression that there is no greater loss than the loss of a child. As the police continued to investigate the crime scene, I knew that one life would never be the same as I watched her mother’s frail body curl into a ball, her eyes looking towards the sky searching the heavens for answers. During that moment I wished I could be her angel. I wished I could lift her up from where she laid engulfed in her own misery and restore the light that seemed to have been snatched from her pale blue eyes.
After that day I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others, but I knew that my first step would be attending college. Yet, looking at the lives of the women in my life I saw nothing but examples of how I never want to live. As proud as I am to be part of my family I do not want to fall into the same trap that not only my family members had succumbed to, but most African American women have as well. I shudder at the possibility becoming another statistic: a single teenage mother on welfare who values the presence of a man in her life more than her child or future. Growing-up, the only positive role model I had was my older cousin Harold. He was the first person in my family to go to college. Every summer that he would return home from NC State I was eager to see both him and to catch a glimpse of a living breathing college student. Now as I stare at my cluttered desk sloppily adorned with essays and stamped envelopes I know I have him to thank. I have him to thank for following his own dreams, so that one day I could discover mine. My goal is not simply to attend a good university, but to die knowing that I lived my life helping others that were once like me.





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