Following my early action acceptance to Howard University in December 2015, I was awarded the Capstone Scholarship for my academic achievement in high school. The scholarship covered tuition, housing, and my meal plan with the stipulation that I maintain at least 15 credits and a 3.3 GPA each semester. I lost my scholarship following the second semester of my freshman year.
My freshman year was rocky from the beginning; I just barely held onto my scholarship first semester, ending with a 3.29 GPA. I struggled to maintain even the bare minimum; I clung to pseudo-happiness in spending money on material things.
Since I earned a scholarship and my mom already had money set aside for college, she sent me that money every two weeks via direct deposit. I was working in some sense of the word. I was getting up some (not most) mornings and managing to get to class, but every job allows employees the liberty to call-out so that was fine. I turned in most of my assignments on time, and when I didn’t, I reached out to my professors at the very last possible moment to turn in what I’d missed and save my grade. I may not have ranked as highly as I should’ve, but at least I’d demonstrated some level of productivity. I was as productive as I could be given the only motivation I had to perform was money. I needed that couple hundred dollars every month to sit in my room on my MacBook and do alllll the online shopping my account balance would allow. I was cooped up in my room anyway, as I was running from something (or some could even say someone) on the outside. That’s a story for another post. Anyway, shopping was my ‘peace’. That was what kept me going.
I felt no drive to succeed. I wasn’t interested in any of my classes, in my major, or even in the idea of obtaining a degree. I hated who I was and where I was. Many conversations I had with my mom about not wanting to be away at school. I wanted to be home and with her, where I could feel secure. On top of all that I was facing mentally, being away from home and struggling to view those I loved as “moving on” and leaving me behind, I had nothing to work towards or look forward to for myself. I didn’t feel I had anything to contribute to the world. I questioned what I was even here for.
… I know I’m all over the place, but there are just so many contributing factors to how low of a place I was in that I ended up without a scholarship. Thoughts were attacking me from every angle so I’m just trying to cover the most prevalent thoughts briefly…
Anyway. Lets fast forward to losing it. My lowest grade of second semester was in a course titled “Reflective Writing Portfolio”… I’ll repeat “Reflective Writing Portfolio.” To explain the expectations of this course and try to articulate how I possibly fell short would be an embarrassment. I dropped the ball in all of my classes that semester, but this one in particular hurt the most. I consider myself a writer, and the course shouldn’t have been hard (I’m retaking it now and will likely earn an A), but I was not in a space where I could thrive and do well even in my favorite area of study- writing. After a long, tortuous few months I finished the spring semester with a GPA that fell well below the 3.3 needed to keep my scholarship which was needed to keep that money coming into my account which was needed to keep me from facing anymore idle time with myself than I already had to.
I lost all of that. But I didn’t fall (permanently at least). In losing my scholarship, I found a sense of purpose. In retrospect, losing that scholarship is the best thing that could’ve happened for me.
I had my best semester yet this Fall 2017 (and still I know I could’ve done even better than I did do). On a daily basis I was up by 7:30am, in the cafe by 8, in class by 9, finished with classes for the day by noon, at work most days by 4pm, and then counting and closing my drawer by 10:30 so I could be home, showered, and in my bed by midnight and get enough rest to do it all over again the next morning. In between, I found time to stay on top of my readings and assignments for class. I had very little free time, so I wasted no time at all. Even still, I looked forward to going to class only as much as I knew once it was over I could go help customers and make my money. By not having my mom send me money every two weeks (since she now had to pay tuition) I was able to take the initiative and get a job and honestly, begin building a strong network amongst management in the company. My first few weeks on the job, I’m sure I called my mom a million times to tell her about the customers I was able to help or the acknowledgment I was receiving from supervisors. Work was exciting and that was a start- I was motivated at least by something. This drive led me to finish with a 3.6 GPA for the semester, so I’m not complaining. It really is a bitter sweet feeling because I’m so proud of myself for how prosperous the semester turned out for me, yet I also know it could’ve been even better if my focus was directed more toward my schoolwork, rather than treating it as a means to an end. Knowing that, I’m now making it a point to get into and be excited about my classes this semester. I am trying to be better for myself now and for myself in the future.
Losing my scholarship gave me a new purpose. It gave me a purpose, as I’d not felt I had one before. For the first time, I felt (and feel) like a contributing member of society. I’m learning what aspects of my retail job I enjoy, and what aspects I’d rather not have to do long term. I’m witnessing how valuable of a team member I am viewed as which makes me feel even more confident in what I am doing. I’m figuring out what I enjoy doing, where I want to go in life, and what steps I want to take in getting there. I’m unsure as to what it is but, now that I know I have one, I’m trying to walk in my purpose.
– Jade M Ernest