Janessa Pedersen, Union High School
I stare at this blank piece of paper thinking about how I got to where I am today.
Today…yes, I know that day. That’s the day where I became Union High School’s Science
Sterling Scholar. It’s the day where I, the oldest child in an extremely low income
family, got accepted to Colorado School of Mines with a $48 thousand scholarship.
It’s the day where I will be the first generation of my family to go to college and
graduate with at least a bachelor’s degree. It’s the day where I look to the future
and ask myself if I’ll be able to find a chemical engineering career. It’s the day
that just over 17 years have created for me. What will my future hold?
I may not know what my future will hold for me aside from a glimpse, but I do know
what my past holds. My past holds a lot of heartache and hard work. A couple things
I have struggled with are moving and being near poverty. I have spent most of my life
moving from place to place, attending 11 different schools. Most places I lived in
for less than a year, except here in Ballard, where I have lived for 6 years with
my grandparents. Many wonder why I live with my grandparents. Well, I live with them
because my mom is struggling so much to keep my sisters and her off the streets while
fighting her Lupus symptoms and my dad is in prison for 5 years.
My entire life I have struggled with being poor. Most of the reason I moved was because
my parents couldn’t afford where we were living. After they got divorced everything
got worse. My sisters and I had to rely completely on extended family to help us find
a place to live and have enough to eat outside of free lunch. It was also hard being
so poor because I couldn’t afford to go out with friends or even take piano lessons
with everybody else. But even though it was hard, I learned that by working hard I’ll
accomplish my goals.
I worked hard to get past the limitations of being poor and the judgments that come
from others about my father. Working hard has led me to programs like Upward Bound,
which have helped me prepare for college, and ultimately allowed me to become my school’s
Science Sterling Scholar.
With all of this in my past, I am certainly looking forward to everything my future
My story…is no different from any of yours. I am 17 years old, my name is Richard
Conrad, son of Richard Conrad and I’m really just stepping towards success. But success
has a specific and personal definition for each one of us. For me, success is the
dream that one day I can raise a family, support them and most of all be economically
stable no matter the times. But I am not so naive to think that just by thinking of
success I will attain it. No, because for anything successful to come, hardships and
struggles must be faced.
I have never really been focused specifically on one career or one aspect of my life.
I think it’s important to keep myself ‘well-rounded’ and never put all my money on
one hand of cards. Honestly I’ve been all over the place with interests. I used to
be determined that I was going to develop video games, then I was going to be a psychologist,
then a doctor and now…business!
Some adversities that I feel have pushed me away from the idea of an average American
family would be, well…my family! When I was a kid my dad got sick, my parents separated
due to abusive relationships, we moved to Roosevelt and to this day live with my grandparents
in an extended family setting. Growing up with my mom as a single parent, but then
also my grandparents right there also has definitely changed my attitude toward the
absolute importance of an education.
I’m low income, a first generation student and a business and marketing sterling scholar!
I will never allow my background or the struggles throughout my life affect who I
am and will be. Education is of the upmost importance, it will be the biggest stepping
stone for the future.