Attempt at scholarships

I received and email from one of the administration people with whom I’ve recently been in contact, encouraging me to apply for a scholarship that was coming to a close on Monday. She said she thought I would be a perfect candidate, and I should be sure to apply.

I began my application process yesterday. I wrote my essay, and got half way through the tedium of answering the hundreds of questions, trying to descipher what counted a community work vs. school work or work work and so on and so forth, until I had to go to class. I saved the application and headed out of the computer lab.

This morning I went to work on it again, and COULD NOT FIND WHERE THE HELL TO RESUME! This was extremely frustrating. For the first fifteen minutes of searching, I couldn’t even find the scholarship. After I did find the scholarship, I saw no way to resume the application.

I went to the email which was sent to me to confirm that I had started the application. There was no link to get back to it, only an email address. I went back to the website and continued to look, searching forums, Googling questions on how to do this and so on.

Finally, I actually read the email that was sent to me. As it would turn out, I didn’t save the application, I submitted the application. The one that could send $12,000 towards the next four years of my education–yes, this very one–is now the recipient of a half-assed essay I planned to go back over and re-write, and a partially completed application.

Well done, Nicola. Well done.

Why We Need to be Less Materialist, and More Humanist

I might find myself losing followers for this, or–with a little luck–inspiring debate, which I whole-heartedly welcome. I am a Bernie Sanders supporter, and have been since I learned what he was about, maybe seven or so months ago. In fact, he’s the first politician I’ve ever donated to–and I’m not exactly flush with money to donate. But I do quite believe in him and what he stands for. Even if he loses, he’s opening the eyes and minds to these seemingly radical ideas that we should be working towards.

I found myself in a debate first thing this morning about Sanders’ policies with a friend of mine. He said he was looking into him, but he didn’t see any of what Sanders was saying as feasible. As the debate went on, he felt the need to point out to me that he’s coming at this from an accounting and economics background. It annoyed me, because I felt like he was using this as a matter of authority to shut me up. So, childishly I rebutted, “Well I’m coming at this from experiencing two different economic systems and a critical thinking and ethical background!” Perhaps not my finest moment.

The debate-turned-argument moved to the raise of minimum wage to $15 an hour. His argument was that it’s not fair for those that aren’t qualified to get the same amount as those who are, and my argument of course is that everyone deserves a living wage, period. As the debate continued, I couldn’t understand how it could only boil down to just numbers. How was ethics not a part of this standpoint? How is it not seen that just because these are idealistic ways to be looking at things doesn’t mean they’re not possibly? After all, just because our system is going the way it is, doesn’t make it right, and it would be sightless (and lazy) to claim that the system can’t change.

It finally dawned on me the main difference between us. He was arguing the stance of a materialist, while I was arguing from an humanist perspective. Everything he’s using to reason is set in the real world: they’re numbers, data and algorithms. It’s not wrong, it’s just not the whole picture. His points are valid, and his reasoning is sound–if you’re only using that for your logic. But there’s so much more to it. I’m arguing ethics as well as feasibility. What can we make done so that the people of the US aren’t struggling to get an education?

Right now, we’re hypocrites. We sing the song of freedom and opportunity of America, yet there’s very little opportunity for Americans. As my blog followers will know, I’ve been looking at schools in the UK as well as the US because the schools in the UK are at a set price at £14,000 (for non residents, £9,000 for residents), while our schools are anywhere between $21,00 and $51,000 a year–making it very difficult for those without good financial backing to make it to a quality school. This means that minds of those that could be leads in top scientific or engineering fields are squandered simply because they don’t come from the “right” people.

There is a lecture that we’re going over in my Critical Thinking class, which is Elizabeth Warren lecturing about the diminishing middle class in America, using nothing but pure data. The bottom line is that what a single-income family could afford in the 70’s (a family with two parents and two kids, though one income), a similar-sized two-income family can’t afford now with two incomes.

So yeah, our system is broken. And it might be like fixing a broken jaw–in order to repair it, it has to be broken more. The way the structure is working now, we cannot smoothly fix it to Sanders’ ideas. But that’s not to say its impossible. We can do it, and what’s more, we need to. If you or me or the generations to come are to have any chance in life to contribute to the enhancement of humanity, then we need to fix it, yesterday.

This isn’t about numbers. This isn’t just about data. It’s about what it means to the individual, to the people that make up the world. We can’t be bombing and bugging other countries because they don’t uphold what we feel to be righteousness and justice, not when we can’t even be just in our own county.

Setting in

It still hasn’t hit me yet, that I’ve actually been accepted into a University. When i sent off the application, I was almost certain that for the last year and a half I had been deluding myself. I thought that there was no way that I was actually doing as well as I thought I was, that I was on some huge self importance kick that made me thought that I was able to get into any school that wasn’t the one in my own back yard (sorry Western).

But I did it. Somehow I managed to get into a program that ranks in the top ten in the UK. It baffles me, truly it does. of course I can be the whole “well, the moral of the story is if you work hard” and yadda, yadda, yadda–but I think that’s too cliche.

I truly am amazed by this. I don’t know what to do with this information yet. I mean, Newcastle University is last on my list of schools that I want to get into that I applied for, but it’s still a good school, and one to be proud of. There’s not really anything I can do with this information other than sit on it. I can’t accept, not yet, and I would be foolish to reject it, or stop applying to other schools. I still have Durham University, University of Exeter, University of York, and University of Nottingham to hear back from, and to apply still to Columbia, Cornwall and Stanford.

Can I actually do this?

The Reason Why #BlackLivesMatter

“Animal Farm” George Orwell

We’ve all heard it, we’ve all been a part of the discussion at some point. Many people, not all (and perhaps not even most) are well-meaning when they argue that All Lives Matter. It’s true, each individual life is precious and needs to be celebrated. But of course, as the argument which I subscribe to goes, AllLivesMatter is entirely missing the point of why BlackLivesMatter (also heavily extended to LatinoLivesMatter, NativeLivesMatter, etc). There is a silencing of voice when the argument of All Lives vs. Black Lives arises. There is a blanketing, a hushing over the ones that are trying so desperately to be heard.

Why?

Well, there’s anger. And I don’t mean anger on the part of those that have suffered injustices. I mean anger on those that were unjust. The calling out of the reminder that all are equal, and not in the Animal Farm sense, is a reminder to those who have done their fellow human wrong, that they were not right. That they were cruel, and acted without conscious thought. There is anger.

An essay called “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us that racism isn’t dead. Through his telling of those who traveled from the Deep South as late as the 1920’s to seek a better life in norther cities, he shows the different type of racism, the cleaver kind, which distorted the African Americans, pushing them into the ghettos, keeping them poor and uneducated. This of course continued on into the 50’s and 60’s, when the movement to end segregation took hold.

But the memory of those robbed of those lives still live on in the lingering effects. Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. We believe white dominance to be a fact of the inert last, a delinquent debt that can be made to dissappear if only we don’t look.

Though many white people think that it all ended then, forty years ago, I t he last millennium. But how could it have?

Coates pains a very vivid picture. Sure, those of color are angry, and feel (rightly) that they have been served an injustice over the centuries, but it was out of anger that white people treated them so terribly. Slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War, and those that relied on their slaves, those that had invested in their housing, health and well being (enough to keep them as good workers, anyway), were angry at their loss of investment. What’s more, they had to invest in new help. There are other reasons, I’m sure, for the anger. But at the end of the day, they lost something that was a part of their life, something that they knew, and something which gave them the sense of importance.

The devastating attitudes towards other human beings

That anger carried on, and it’s what perpetuated the actions of the Klu Klux Klan, the segregation of human from human, and the fruition of ghettos, forcing good people to live in poverty.

Those that have endured the actions of such hatred have every right to need to heal, to find their voice again, to shout out that “Yes! We matter!” While I can’t speak for everyone, my understanding is that the anger of those that are minorities are of the injustices which still ripple through our country today, which still separate colors, which still insinuates that there is a race which is top dog. The anger is that they have fought so hard just to have a voice, through violence, slurs, and ignorance.

When their voice finally is heard, AllLiveMatter is the blanket to muffle the sound.

There is much healing that begs to be done. Those that are unjust, must realize the cause of their anger, and let it go. If anyone is going to be allowed to heal, it needs to be those that have wronged, those that have inflicted the anguish on others. If there is no healing on the part of the bully, then they will only continue doing what they know to do.

Compassion is what I’m known to preach. But in order for compassion to grow, understanding must grow as well. We must understand why it is that Black Lives Matter, and why it is only perpetuating the hurt when the retort is All Lives Matter. We must understanding where the stem of hate comes from, and work to heal it. There can be no solutions when anger is involved, no viable, productive solutions. The BlackLivesMatter movement forces us to face the anger, forces us to look at what we think we have moved past, and realize that things have only changed on the surface.

First Response

Oh wow. I was fairly wide awake when I saw that little email subject line as a bleary-eyed opened my inbox this morning, the subject line which read “UCAS Application Status Notification”.

Hastily, I clicked the link, read that one of the universities had made a decision regarding my application, and went to the website to see which one and what they had decided.

It was Newcastle University. They had invited me to join their English and Creative Writing program–pending the completion of my AA with a 3.5 GPA minimum.

I won’t lie. Newcastle was one of my filler universities, one that I applied to to cover my bases. I had to go look them up again to know what it was I was getting into. Here’s the specs, for my purposes, any way:

NewCastle University

Overall Ranking in the UK: 26/126

Ranking English Department in the UK8/126

World Ranking: 167/16,000 (This might not be an accurate number, in regards of how many universities there are. The only solid number I could find was 16,000 institutions, which might include community colleges as well).

High scores inStudent Satisfaction, Graduation Prospects, Greenness

Student to teacher Ratio: 15.6

Acceptance Rate: unavailable

I don’t think that I can respond to them yet, since I haven’t finished my Liberal AA yet. I don’t want to reply yet any way, I still have four more schools to hear back from, and two more to apply to in the US. I suppose I should get on that.

Meeting with the Senator

 
Well, it certainly was interesting, if nothing else. 

As mentioned in a post earlier this morning, Senator Doug Ericksen, Whatcom County’s conservative representative, made an appearance at my community college today, where a group of us, including the student senate, were to try and convince him it was worth being our voice to build the planned Learning Commons.

The Learning Commons made it fourth on the priority list in 2013, but was nixt last year. However, we did get a brand new sports pavilion with an in-door running track and a juice bar.

Did you hear that? That distant thunder? Oh that was the sound of my eyes rolling.

The plans for the Learning Commons can be found here, and it is beautiful. It would mean far more computers, group working spaces, a media center to multimodal projects, the writing center separate from the math center–it’s just fantastic. Currently we have a large classroom linked with a smaller classroom that act as our learning center–and I can promise you the math center get the bigger room. 

 I would say the math center is about the size of this conference room.

So as the students and faculty gather, Senator Ericksen enters, casually in his Washington State University sweater (he went to Western Washington University), and sat at the head of the table, one person to the right of me. 

As we began talking, it became very clear that he didn’t know why he had been invited, and it became even more clear he wasn’t interested in helping us have a voice with the state on this project. In fact, it became his at-hand response to refer us to someone else in another department. He rarely answered any questions, and when asked if he had any questions for us about the project which he seemed very uninformed of, he twaddled off on some tangent of the importance of us coming together, or something or other. 

In fact, he seemed more intent on pointing out that being senator was just a part time job, and his real excitement was bringing in more neuclear energy to Washington. 

After hearing all his politician nonsense, I tuned it out. I was done, I’d said what I needed to say, and had listened to other students, and heard a bunch of nothing from him. Perhaps others might feel differently, but I don’t think we swayed him. I don’t think he cared. I don’t think he has any idea what it’s like to be a community college student that needs support. 

But I’d be willing to try again with some of the other names he suggested, if they would be willing to listen, and hear us.

The meeting ran just a touch longer than we thought it would. I was late for my shift in the writing center. I ran across campus as best I could in heals, and arrived out of breath. Our Lead desk person looked up and said, “It’s been slammed all morning.”

Every one was in a session, all the computers were taken up, and all the tables were crowded wth students. Gee, if only we had a space big enough to accommodate these busy times…

Sick, Presentation, and Talking to a Senator

This has been a rather hectic weekend–one which didn’t go anywhere near the way I had planned it.

I had intended to go to Seattle on Friday to meet up with the representative from Durham University that I met with in February. She emailed me a month or so ago, saying she would be in the area and would love to meet up if I had any more questions. I agreed, though as fate would have it, I was extremely sick on Friday. It wasn’t a cold or anything I could push through. It was turning-on-the-show-becoming-over-heated-before-I-could-get-in-it-and-laying-on-the-bathroom-floor-until-I-got-the-strength-to-turn-the-shower-off kind of sick. And oh yes, there was vomit.

That took up all of the Friday that we were gifted off by the college for a teacher work day (or something along those lines).

Thankfully, it was only a short term thing, I was fairly able to function by the evening, though far too late to get anything done. I worked all Saturday, in the blustery windy horrible day that it was at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market, trying desperately to keep my cheese from flying away (one of the smug bastards managed to get away from me, though I caught up to it), came home, worked on homework, and repeated the process on Sunday at the Everett Farmer’s Market.

This morning I continue my homework, having gotten up at 4 this morning to do so (an hour later than intended), and–oh yes! Did I mention that apparently I am to talk to a senator today, Senator Ericksen–a conservative representative of Whatcom County–about why he should allow Washington State to fund our $36.1 million Learning Commons? I was asked to do this on Thursday, with very little detail as to what exactly it is that I’m supposed to approach him about. I’m of course not alone in this, there are a couple other students that are talking with him as well. Then last night, somewhere around six o’ clock, I got the email from our funding director as to what it is we should have prepared. She apologized, saying she meant to send it Friday. Well, I suppose better 14 hours before we’re supposed to meet the guy than never.

So this morning, I am procrastinating, as all good academics do, by blogging. Really I should be researching William James, about whom I have to present today in one of my classes; typing up my lectio journal entry; finishing my take-home quiz; and preparing whatever it is I’m going to say to this politician. I have an hour and a half to get this done and take a shower to ready myself for the day.

…I suppose I should stop typing here and go type somewhere else.