Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The American Dream

The Ivy League Connection is an incredible opportunity. An opportunity that I would go as far to say is the epitome of the “American Dream.” A program that helps people who help themselves by selecting the top students of our District, and encouraging them to expand their horizons and help them meet their full potential. Sounds like some good old-fashioned bootstrap pulling to me. Some might wonder, “Who could ask for anything more?”

However, what I have come to believe is that the American Dream is no longer good enough. The era in which we can afford to let the best and the brightest of us, especially WCCUSD, simply slip away and join the ranks of the upper class is gone. Communities such as ours are continually being harvested by elite universities for the cream of our crop while the rest of our student population is left to curdle. We should be proud of our own who come from humble beginnings to achieve great things, but a rags-to-riches story for a select few of us should not, and cannot be the only thing we as a community should hope for. It is a crime for us to let our District become intellectually, as well as economically, poor by letting our most brilliant students achieve that “American Dream” of going to a good school, making a ton of money in the financial sector, and leaving their community in the dust. How does this serve us?
I have gone through this school district, and I know how hard it is to succeed, and more to the point, how easy it is to fail. Which is why I am inspired to go to a top school, be successful, come back with a phenomenal education, and use it improve the lot of all the students in districts such as ours. I refuse to waste the Ivy League Connection’s investment in me by using it to pursue a more selfish “American Dream.” Instead I hope to use the skills I learn, and combine it with my own perspective to contribute to the goal of raising the baseline of success for students in WCCUSD and similar districts, not widening the gap between them and the Ivy League by using this opportunity to disconnect myself with my community.

This is what I have come up with in response to the question of what I hope to do with my scholarship and the opportunity it affords me. This thesis of mine, that we need a paradigm shift away from the unsustainable “American Dream,” is an aspiration. It is preachy, and a little naive, but it is also an ideal, and I would like to think that any ideal worth having must be thought of as such.