My father barely finished high school and my mother has only a sixth grade education. I was raised primarily by my mother and because of her limited educational background we faced great difficulties. As a young child I was placed into foster care with two of my siblings because after a fire occurred in our apartment building our mother did not have the resources to keep us from being homeless. We eventually reunited with our mother but not before being traumatized by the separation and the abuse imposed upon us by our foster family.
As I grew up and faced many difficulties I realized a large part of our struggles as a family was our inability to progress out of poverty. I believe one of the main barriers to that progression was my mother’s lack of education. She did not have the skills and abilities that would allow her to pursue a career that could improve the lives of her children. As I am writing this essay my mother and younger siblings are currently homeless due to another fire that has happened at their Brooklyn home just two nights ago. Luckily I have my wife as a support system to aid me in assisting my family through this difficult time.
I was always considered a smart child but due to a lack of resources in my home life I eventually faltered in school. In High school I became disengaged. I felt alone and disconnected from my family, friends, classmates and teachers. There was no one for me to communicate with and so I started to hate school and life. As I reflect on my past I realize that if I had a mentor or a better support system then I may not have made some of the mistakes in high school that I did. As a black man I am very proud of myself for overcoming the many obstacles I have faced in my life.
Five years ago I would not have thought it would be possible for me to apply to University. It is only through hard work, persistence, dedication and a little bit of luck that I am not uneducated, unemployed, serving time or dead like a lot of the people I grew up with in Brooklyn. I am the first member of my family to attend college. I am also the only person from my group of childhood friends to be graduating from college. I think this is a great achievement but one that needs to happen more frequently in minority communities.