In all these years since my parents, along with my kid sister and my best friend, dropped me off at George Washington University, I never had this thought before. How did they afford the trip to D.C., let alone my tuition, board and room?
I knew we weren't rich; I always knew that. But I never thought the word 'poor.' We were just regular people, I thought, as opposed to rich people. Looking back, we were poor.
My Dad gave me simple advice before we all waved goodbye. "Have a good time in college," he said, "and don't get stressed out over grades." I followed his advice.
They believed in me
so I believed in myself.
It was that simple.
I stood on the corner of 21st and G Streets, four blocks from the White House, as we waved goodbye and then turned and never looked back as they drove away. At 17, I was ready for college, ready for the city - so different from my small, historic New England town - and ready for my new life.
They believed in me so I believed in myself. It was that simple. I was accepted to the University of Massachusetts and had a partial scholarship there when I decided I wanted to go to George Washington. It was fine with my parents, neither of whom had gone to college. They wanted more for me and for my sister. And G.W.U. offered more than U. Mass.
How these good, hard-working people managed my first two years before I began working full time on campus I will never know. What I do know is that my life changed that very day and I've been grateful ever since.
Beyond the financial support they couldn't afford but found a way to provide was the emotional encouragement that sent me off knowing I could succeed. That, as the commercial says, was priceless.
They trusted me to learn. Even after the first glorious semester when I had fun every minute until grades came out and I realized I'd have to really study to stay, they simply believed I'd get the grades. And I did. I wasn't going to leave that wonderful place.
It was there at G.W. that I discovered the joy of learning, both from books and from the other students who came there from all over the world. I was allowed to pursue my own destiny from what seemed the center of the universe.
What a gift I received from my parents, who sacrificed to secure my chance to chart my own course and who gave me the greatest gift of all - belief in me. It is the reason I believed in myself. It is the reason I'm living the life I love.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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