Today, a woman I taught three summers ago--a first-generation, community-college transfer student who's also a single mother--called the scholarship center where I work to iron out some financial logistics. She asked me for some advice about her post-graduation plans.
During her time at Big City U, this woman has helped other community-college students make the transition here, has been able to study abroad, and had the world opened up for her. She has a job as an educational counselor lined up, plans to work toward a Master's degree in Education, and wants to teach at a community college to help people who need better access to the educational system--in her words, "just like the summer program; just like you."
Folks, that just feels so damn good.
That's what I'm here for. That's what this whole durn shootin' match is about. The research and the writing make it possible, and they're as necessary, for me, as breathing. But that--helping someone change her world for the better from the inside out, then watching her go on to do the same thing for somebody else--well, that's just the Real Stuff.
And you know what? All the doubt and debt and exploitation are worth it. Grad school should've been easier; it should've been better; it did not need to grind me down the way it has. But today, I feel like I'm made out of Teflon: today, none of it sticks.