Off the Couch
This story originally appeared in our summer edition of News from HOME.
Jessica Hartfield shared this reflection at our College Access Program (CAP) graduation last year. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Masters in Social Work in May 2015.
As I look out at you, our CAP participants, I feel as though I have just left those seats. I remember how unsure, intimidated, and apprehensive about the future I was.
When I was a student, I had no one in my family or community to look to for advice on how to prepare for college, and I carried little hope for financial aid. Thankfully, I found out about the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs and met its amazing staff. I knew I was in a place that cared about me and was willing to go as far with me as I was willing to go myself.
Benjamin Disraeli says, “There is no education like adversity.” My journey has been tough, but it has also been worth it. Going through high school and college without parental support was a challenge. Sometimes I worked 30 hours a week, and I had to adapt to new environments which did not always feel welcoming. Yet I learned how strong I was. Adversity has provided windows of opportunity, and those have determined my values and goals. I learned to use my many obstacles as stepping stones to the life I wanted.
Sister Mary Scullion still recalls my telling her that the reason I had applied to 32 colleges was because I didn’t want to be on my sister’s couch for the rest of my life. I am not quite off the couch yet, but I have come a long way; and I am proud of the person that I am becoming.
When I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania this past May, I was filled with the same apprehension and nervousness as my previous commencement ceremonies. Yet my yearning for success is greater than my fear of failure. I know now that I will make it.