For all of us who were first in our families to go to college, who worked fast food or retail to make as much extra cash as possible, who had to convince our worried immigrant parents to turn over their taxes so we could fill out FAFSA and then shock them with news that there was free money for college.
For all of us who got that SAT fee waiver, didn’t even know you could prep and be tutored for a test that had questions about yachts (true story), for those of us who scrambled to get more fee waivers for our college applications because otherwise you were definitely NOT applying to that school.
To those of us who wrote our own essays and didn’t even know anyone that might be able to review it, much less rewrite it. And to those of us who had to argue with parents about moving into a college dorm.
To those of us who knew we couldn’t demand that our parents do more than sacrifice everything they already had. To those of us who figured out how to pass our classes and graduate from college, after feeling lost as hell and often like an imposter who won the lottery.
This college admissions cheating scandal is a reminder that the deck has always been stacked against us, and even so, we still made it. We worked for everything that we received. We earned it with the help of mentors, peers, and family who cheered us on and believed in us when we didn’t believe in ourselves.
We earned it because we are brilliant and excellent, and we don’t give up or need our parents to lie, cheat, steal or open any side doors for us. We are awesome.
Here we are working to ensure that more kids like us have better opportunities than we did.
I hope justice prevails, but I won’t hold my breath. With all that wealth and privilege, it still wasn’t enough to play by the rules to get into college.
The following two tabs change content below.
Michele Siqueiros is president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. She works to expand access and success in college for California students by raising public attention on the critical challenges facing higher education, mobilizing a broad coalition of supporters, and influencing policymakers. In 2010, the campaign led the effort for historic transfer reform that will make it easier for students to transfer from any California community college to the California State University system. Over the past seven years, she has raised over $8 million dollars and serves as a state and national spokesperson on higher education in California, with regular contributions to major newspapers and TV outlets across the state. Previously, she was senior project coordinator with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in the City of Los Angeles, founding program manager for Public Allies-Los Angeles, and assistant director of constituency services for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO). In addition to PPIC’s Statewide Leadership Council, she serves on the boards of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and the Alliance for a Better Community (ABC). She was named treasurer of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) in 2014. In the same year, she received La Opinion’s Hispanic Leader Award for her leadership in education. She is an honorary board member of the Soldier’s Project and co-chair of the Latino Jewish Roundtable for the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles. From 2011–14 she was a gubernatorial appointee to the California Student Aid Commission, the state agency responsible for distributing and awarding over $1.5 billion annually in Cal Grant aid to California college students. From 2005–10, she served on the Board of Neighborhoods, overseeing the citywide system of neighborhood councils. She holds an MA in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and a BA from Pitzer College, with a major in politic studies and honors in Chicano/a studies.