...a letter from a scholarship application by Laurie Danels
I kept my appointment with the counselor at College of Marin, although I wasn't sure why I had made it in the first place. I was a depressed, suicidal girl who was aimlessly roaming around in the world. I was a kid of the streets. I had lost faith in most people, and certainly in my future. I felt as if I was living on borrowed time, and I didn't care. However, at the relentless nagging of a friend to take a class, I made an appointment and kept it.
I felt extremely out of place on the campus because it wasn't the kind of environment I was accustomed to. I only had one friend with a education, and she represented something that I admired but could never have. I felt I wasn't educable material.
...being on campus exposed me to people who seemed to care, wanted to help, even smiled...
After my COM counselor talked to me awhile, he took me out to the lobby, filled out a yellow add card and pointed me to the admissions line. Luckily, the line was short and I didn't have much time to realize what I was doing.
I registered for classes.
My experience at COM transformed my life. I couldn't have imagined how important that first class would be in changing my life, possibly saving it.
People working in the Disabled Students Program tested me and found I had a learning disability. They hooked me up with a tutor and eventually enrolled me in the ESL program.
The change in me didn't happen overnight, but being on the campus exposed me to people who seemed to care, wanted to help, even smiled for apparently no other reason then Òjust because.Ó People responded to me in a positive way, and I started responding to simple tasks like constructing sentences and finding verbs. I got excited that even though I didn't know what a verb was, I could learn -- and I did learn.
...reach back into... the streets to encourage, assist and even nag kids, if necessary...
Six years later I have completed not only the pre-college courses, but have also accumulated credits for AA degrees in both Liberal Arts and Behavioral Science.
My goal is to continue my education by getting my BA and then MA in psychology (my friend says she sees me with a Ph.D.). I plan to use these degrees to reach back into the familiar environment of the streets to encourage, assist and even nag kids, if necessary, to help them find their goals and sense of purpose.
I know how dehumanizing the streets can be, and I wish to start with one child at a time to let him/her know that there are people who care not only if he/she lives but also about the quality of his/her life.
I've already started to do that; I volunteer at the Marin City Children's Program as a tutor during the week.
[Ms. Danels will graduate from College of Marin this Spring, and has been accepted at Dominican College in San Rafael.]