Posts Tagged mom

Two Steps Forward

darius-85“I can’t wait to be out of this house!”

Sound familiar?? Of course it does! I’m quite sure the majority of youth have had this thought on more than one occasion. I was so ready to move out that my idea of life “on my own” was jaded by the romanticized portrayal of “the good life”. Of course, once I moved out life was going to be so much easier! I’d be able to do what I want when I want to do it. . . Reality soon snatched me back to Earth.

I never imagined that after living my dream for a semester, my life would be reduced to public libraries and absolute boredom. After I was forced to leave New York, I spent the majority of my time searching for work and trying to get back in school. So far, I’ve had no luck finding a job. Life away from mom isn’t as great as the movies make it seem. Nobody ever taught me how to be an adult, and I personally feel that it should come with a how-to manual! I’ve been eighteen for only seven months, and already I’ve had to deal with hospital bills, homelessness and identity theft. Now I’m so far in debt that I’m at a loss for what to do next!

Instead of fun fun fun, I’m left with emotional breakdowns and a recurring feeling of hopelessness. My summer will be spent teaching an acting class, working (prayerfully) and preparing to go back to school. It hurts me to say this, but…mom was right. About everything. A word of advice, listen to your parents/guardians, they know what they’re talking about usually. College is fun, but there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with growing up. It isn’t all fun and games. It’s like they say, “Life is like a box of chocolates”. Every time you make a choice you’re taking a risk. Either you’re going to like it or you won’t, but the risk is always worth taking. Yeah, I’m struggling right now, but I know that it’ll all pay off. Expect to struggle. Expect not to get it right the first time…Nobody does. You may have chosen the wrong school or the wrong major, you may get involved with the wrong crowd, but everything is a learning experience. This time, when I get to New York, I’ll do it right. Life is a gamble. Every day there’s the chance that you may lose it all… but there’s also a chance for exponential success!

No matter what happens, who gets in your way or how long it takes, don’t ever give up. Because that’s when you lose.

~Darius A. Journigan

Phantom Limb

seanna-85Imagine sitting at the kitchen table every night, head bent over bills, trying to make pennies stretch into places where dollar bills are necessary…

…Working fifty hours a week behind a desk, then returning to work five more hours each night, cooking…cleaning…ironing…reviewing eighth grade Math, English & Science…

…Walking in circles for a few hours…lost & disoriented…unsure of where you are, where you were going, and where you are now supposed to be…

…Your hand being unable to open that ketchup bottle…water bottle…jar of jelly…too weak to twist off that “easy-open” cap…

…Inserting shots into your stomach every two weeks to maintain consciousness, trying to find a spot that isn’t too sore from the last shot & isn’t too tough from the 60+ shots that came before…


You’re imagining my mom.


Imagine running from the bus to your house, running from bullies who grab you right before you make it to the door, throw down your bag and jump you…

…Sitting in class every day, frustrated by the endless numbers and words that jump out from the lifeless pages of your textbook, your uncertainty developing into embarrassment…

…Waiting for hours for your father to show up with that game he promised, only to find out that he wasn’t able to stretch his check that far…maybe next month…

…Burning inside with energy and anger that you can’t explain, can’t contain, and can’t shake…emotions that need to find their way out, but remain trapped inside…

…Struggling with teenage thoughts, hormones, & doubts…trying to find your way in a world where kids are cruel, teachers don’t listen, and Mom is on her own & stressed…


You’re imagining my little brother.


Imagine loving the opportunities that are presented at your college, embracing the friends, classes, teachers & new activities…

…Waking up each day with your own agenda, going to sleep at night with a list of things “To-Do” the next day…all seeming as urgent & important as yesterday’s…

…Being thankful that you’ve been blessed with so much, financial aid, Office of Black Student Affairs, mentors…knowledge…

…Picking up the phone to hear about how hectic your mom’s day has been…why your brother got suspended yet again, and how the car broke down on the interstate…AGAIN…

…Knowing that you can’t be there to beat up those bullies, iron his shirt, or open that ketchup bottle…

…Imagine 1,794 miles…


Now, you’re imagining me.


Growing up, I was my mom’s right hand.  I helped her before she realized she needed assistance.  I played with my brother, relishing in my role as his sister.  The six years between us made me more like a second mother than a big sister.  When I decided to go to school so far away from home, leaving family behind was the hardest decision.  I was still only a phone call away, but I was also $600 and at least 7 hours from home. 

My advice to those of you who are considering college out-of-state: GO FOR IT.  Weigh your options carefully, but the next four years of your life will be a time of growth, change, and adjustment.  Although I did get homesick my first year, and I hate hearing about the problems my brother & mom go through, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Pomona for anywhere else.  Learning to balance my life away from home with the one I had before & will have after graduation has helped me learn how to stay in contact with those that I care about & vice versa. 

You don’t lose your family or close friends by moving outside state lines.  In fact, those who are most important will remain with you, even if the communication style changes.  It also helps that my mom and brother are fully supportive of my decision, and that other students at school, including my best friend, traveled far from home, as well.  There will be up’s and down’s, but I know that looking back, I will appreciate the risk I took & the sacrifices that everyone dear to me made for these four years.  

I text my mom every morning & tell her good night, every evening…so even though I am not there physically, I’m still her right hand…and I’m still willing to go above and beyond as her daughter & as Thurm’s big sister…

“The distance is nothing…it is only the first step that is difficult…” (Madame Marie du Deffand)


jeremy-85Hey CSO Blog Family:

Happy Holidays! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year!  I hope this holiday season brought you peace, love and joy. I hope everyone got some amazing Christmas gifts! As a first year college student, this was a wonderful time of reflection for me.  Going home was EVERYTHING during the Thanksgiving break.

I realized how much I had missed my family and being at home.  But then, after a few days, I wanted to get back to my new life on campus.  I needed my independence back in a major way.  So, going home was bittersweet for me and my mom.  We both noticed the growth and the newfound independence.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crazy.  I know my mom still calls the shots, but I was just a little irritated by having to be accountable again when I had been on my own for the past three months.  I’m just saying.

So, we both had to assess this new ‘me’ and come to terms with the reality of college and its consequences. Sometimes going home again is the hardest thing to do…

As I ended my semester and headed home, again, for the Holiday break, I thought about my message to you guys for the New Year and came up with five things I know I need to do better going forward and I’m hoping you’ll hold ‘me’ to them.  I need your help in 2011 to be the best man I can be and a successful student as well.

Here are the Five Things You Need To Know Right Now about “That Life”!! (Code for: Freshman Survival Tips)

1. Do Not let OTHERS dictate the things YOU do and decisions YOU make in YOUR life.
2. Work on managing your money better and more wisely.
3. Sleep Does Matter! Change and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
4. Schedule your recreational activities around your studies. They are not priority ~ your classes and coursework SUPERSEDE any and all social stuff.
5. Stay focused! Stay focused! Stay focused!

Happy New Year everyone and God bless you in 2011.

Transitioning: B-school to E-school

duylam-85Well, I suppose it’s quite appropriate that this post would be about a fairly large event in my life given that my last post was months ago.

It’s been 3 months since I traded in case studies for problem sets.

Read more of Transitioning: B-school to E-school

Bye Bye Birdie

abigail-85“Wait until I’m 18; I’ll be outta here!”

Whenever I used to get into an argument with my mom it wasn’t uncommon for me to tell her those exact words and the same holds true for a lot of high school students. But the truth is that I’m not even 18 yet; I’m 17 and tonight I’ll catch a red eye flight to Boston. From there, I’ll wait to board the Dartmouth Coach which will take me to my new home, Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Whoopee. Don’t get me wrong; I am excited for the new people and experiences that await me, but having my mom cry about me “leaving the nest” is not pleasant and I’m not sure how thousands of freshman do it each year, especially those who are the first in their family to attend college.

So, if you find yourself not being able to console your mom or anybody else afraid of letting you go out into the world alone, start by reassuring them that this new beginning doesn’t mean that you’ll forget about those who helped you get there in the first place. Cell phones, Skype, Pictures, AIM, Facebook, etc. there are tons of ways to keep in touch; try to find one that best works for you and your loved ones. I bought my mom a webcam and now she can’t wait for me to tell her about my first day on campus.

I’ve packed up all my things but it probably won’t sink in until I’m 10,000 feet in the air. Remember, college isn’t a complete good-bye, more of a “see you later”. Have fun and make the most of it!

The most intense 3 hours of my life.

khadijah-85Hurry bus! Please hurry!!

March 31st was the craziest time for me. I elected to get my admissions decisions from Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Williams, and Harvard by email, because truthfully, I didn’t want to wait for mail. Although I got into a lot of schools previously, including Dartmouth and several other amazing liberal arts colleges, these were the schools that would guarantee me full aid all four years, so I was excited and anxious, because they were the most competitive and selective in the country. Because I was in west coast time, I had to wait until 2pm (5pm Eastern time) for admissions decisions for all except Stanford. And for some dumb reason, that day was an early day at school. I didn’t want to wait at school for three hours, so I took the long bus home. I couldn’t stay still. “I find out where I get into today!”  I say to some people I see on the bus often. I try to read, but I can’t. Finally, an hour later, I get near a computer. 12:32 pm. Seriously?! I pace. I pace some more. I worry. I check for Stanford. No. I deflate. I cry. So impersonal! I get a yes from Williams! I feel a bit better. I have to call for Princeton and Yale, because I forgot my online password, and it was very upsetting talking to the Princeton staff. “You know, I can give you your password, but how about I tell you now, so you don’t have to wait.” Ok. “I’m sorry….” Thanks! Bye! And I quickly hang up. By now I’m so nervous. I’m anxious. I’m shaking. This is so important to me. Not just going to college, but saving my life, and soon my family’s. Securing my future. No from Stanford, Princeton, Yale. Yes from Columbia and Williams, but how can I get into three top schools in a row- let alone the most prestigious? Harvard’s up there. I got two interviews. I know they don’t know about whether I’m worth the risk. I’m homeless. I missed a lot of school. Can I handle the change? The work load? The people? I hope I convinced them. I hope my not traditionally-stellar scores will be considered under the lens of where I came from. I hope my optimism is enough to convince them I’ll be ok, I can and will handle the challenges. I hope all the help and recommendations from South Central Scholars, my school, and mentors, are enough.  By now, I’m feeling VERY insecure. I can’t take this.

At exactly 2:01 (5:01pm eastern time), I refresh Gmail. In very generic type- Harvard College: Your Admissions Decision.

“I can’t open this!” I yell to Trisha London, co-founder of South Central Scholars, and Randy Winston, the director of SCS. I was in Trisha’s office, where she and her husband, founder James London, work, and Randy Winston was comforting me. “Open it.” They say. I click. It loads. Sloooooooowly.

“…We are delighted-”

I stop there!! I can’t read anymore! I scream! I shout! I GOT INTO HARVARD! I GOT INTO HARVARD! I GOT INTO HARVARD! WHO CARES ABOUT STANFORD, PRINCETON, OR YALE? I GOT INTO HARVARD! I play the melodic classical music video given to admits. It seems so Harvard-y.

Then, I call my mom. I tell her the news. She was staying at a shelter in downtown at the time.

The relief, the happiness in her voice. Yes mom, you didn’t mess up. Our trials, our tribulations, the pain, it’s ok now. Because mom, your daughter, your daughter, got into Harvard.

Big Bro

duylam-85I must say from the get-go I never really had a “mentor” or someone who helped me along the college process, at least not in the strictest sense. And this is true for many first generation students. We just don’t have anyone who takes our hands and shows us the ins and outs of looking for colleges or helps us fill out financial aid or any of that.

CollegeConfidential was my guiding light as far as the whole process goes. Everybody has a different story, but please listen to this one piece of advice: do not not ask for help. When I was beginning my search I just told my mom “Yeah, yeah, I got this, don’t worry. I got everything down.” Well sure I thought I had everything down, but now that I’m in college I’ve talked to more admission officers and financial service officers, and I regret not asking for help.

Yes, I know you have no questions, everything seems pretty straight forward. Red buzzer. Did you know you could go back and appeal for larger financial aid package? If you get into multiple schools, and the one you reaaaaaaaaallllllllyyyy want to get into does not offer the package you can afford, you should try appealing for a larger package.

That’s just one thing you learn once you start talking to people who have been through the college process before. And you know what? I know you don’t have questions, but maybe you should talk to someone anyways. Just ask: hey so what was applying for college like for you? Or my friends’ and my personal favorite, what goodies do you got in that college bag? Hah we don’t really talk like that.

The point being is that you should just get a feel for what has been done, what has succeeded in getting more aid, acceptance, etc, and what has not succeeded. If you’re stuck in an area where not a lot of people have gone to college, you should just go up to your guidance counselor, and ask them about their experience. That’s what I did, and I really love my high school counselor. She was the one who told me about CSO in the first place.

As I’ve said, I never had anyone really tell me what to do or how to do anything as far as college. This is good and bad. Good because I have had the freedom to do what I want and there is nothing like staying up until 1am looking at colleges with your buddies. Bad because I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

*** I just got a text from my good friend, David Ngo. He has midterms right now and his text couldn’t have been any better for right now. “Gotta dig deep and find the source of strength and see [life] from a bigger perspective.” What’s the bigger perspective for you?

What I mean is what is the reason you’re doing what you are doing? Why go to college? For a better future? Yes that is the answer, but why do you want the better future? Simon Sinek asked me the same thing and it is something worth asking yourself…

Whatever the reason, there is, as I have come to find out, a person or people behind the reason. My mom was the biggest factor in me coming to college. Her story is a bit too intimate for me to share so publicly, but I’ll talk about the theme that is universal to most, if not all, first generation students.

The weight that is put on your shoulders is a weight that many first generation students feel. I dare not call it a burden, but rather a 1000 ton brick on your back. And that is why we do what we do. Because we love our families, because they expect so much from us,  because we expect so much from ourselves, as the forerunners for wealth in the future generations,  this is what fuels our passion.

I may be generalizing way too much, forgive me if I am. I may sound corny, but this is coming right from my soul [this sounds pretty corny looking back]. If you have more reasons as to why you strive so hard or have someone special who has motivated you feel free to put it down in digital form!

Happy Holidays!

jesse-85Finally finished my first semester at Harvard!!! I can’t even describe how I feel. The first thing I did when I got out of my last final (Philosophy), was call my mom. She was at work so she couldn’t answer but I left her a voicemail thanking her for helping me overcome all the obstacles we have faced together. It was tough, but we made it!!

This semester was most definitely a challenge but it just takes adjusting. It’s nothing you can’t handle!

If I could give a piece of advice: learn to manage your time while still in high school; set your goals and in everything you do, ask yourself if it is helping you get to where you ultimately want to go. Also, always make time for family and friends; they are the ones that will help you get through the rough times.

The Holidays are here!! I can’t wait to come back home!! I just hope that I will be able to reconnect with all my old friends after four months. I have so many stories to share. College is definitely one of those life-changing experiences that help you gain perspective on the world. I never thought I would make it, but through hard work and faith, you can too!!

Keep working hard guys and enjoy the holidays! I’ll definitely blog again soon!

Yeah it’s a bit past T-Day..

duylam-85…but I don’t think any of us needs a day to give thanks. I must say I am thankful for all things here – from my freedom of speech to the fact that my mom calls me every day [yes every day haha].

I would shed some light on my past and tell you why I’m thankful for this that and the third, but today I ran across a Wall Street Journal article about an Iranian-American, dissenting against Iran, who got an anonymous email saying that his family would be harmed if he did not stop producing slanderous material against Iran. 2 days later his mother called and security had arrested his father and told her that the young Iranian-American, Koosh, would not be able to safely return to Iran.

Iranian Protest

Iranian Protest

Iranian Crackdown Goes Global – WSJ article

Everything in my life, regardless of whether it is “bad” or “good”, I am thankful for. This article just proves to me once more that the grass I stand on is as green as it can get. Happy Holidays everyone.

Viva la vida,