Dear Dr. Laura,
Money can do a lot of things- from ruining a person to making a person- in a sort of indirect way.
I grew up with a very hard working dad, a stay-at-home mom, five brothers and one sister. From the time I was 5 years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Instead of playing dolls, I convinced my little brothers to sit still and I would take an old science textbook my mother had and look at the pictures and make up lessons based on what I thought the pictures showed.
When I was 13 I started working weekends at an old folks' home washing dishes to pay for marching band trips and that soon morphed into also paying for my American university education. Yes, I knew even at 13 where I was going. I'm Canadian and so the cheaper provincial university would have been smarter, but it wasn't what I wanted. I didn't even bother going to my parents for school money. I knew it was completely up to me. The summer before school started, I worked 3 jobs and continued doing that every summer until I graduated university. I lived on very little, bought very few clothes, and went without things my roommates figured were needs, not wants. I graduated with a GPA of 3.8, was on the Dean's list and had helped pay for tuition with hard earned partial scholarships. While my roommates struggle with full-time class loads of 12 to 14 credits, I never took less than 18, sometimes as high as 21 credits. When my roommates would moan about their upcoming summer job in an air-conditioned office, answering phones, they would look at me like I was from Mars as I set up my old job washing dishes and bathing old ladies, plus adding delightful things like waitressing at the local greasy spoon and scraping gum off the floor of the old movie theater. One summer I interned at the elementary school for $10.00 a day from May 1 to June 30 in addition to my other jobs because I knew it would look good on a resume when I began job hunting. I did all of this without a vehicle to boot!
So when I watch some of my former students party and fail courses because Mom and Dad are footing the bill, I just shake my head. Every now and then, I think how nice it would have been to have had help going to school, but then I shake my head and hold it high. I did it on my own- no help- no student loans- and I became a very good teacher. I didn't get to teach as long as I wanted to because I was diagnosed with some unfortunate illnesses, but nobody can take away what I accomplished. It is what made me focused and determined. And now that I am in a different kind of fight- I face it with the same determination.