I make no qualms about how I was raised or where I come from. I was spanked hard with a belt, but hugged afterward even harder. I knew love in a myriad of forms. We shopped at thrift stores and, later, my mom sewed holes shut and dyed our pants so they appeared new. My dad was a cook at a local college and I'd go to help clean the kitchen with him, often times wrapping up discarded food to take home for family dinner.
Life wasn't hard, it was just all I knew.
I thought it was normal to have groceries randomly left on our porch, normal to apply for collegiate financial aid and discover the United States government has special grants and scholarships for students of especially low socio-economic status.
When I moved into my college dorm room, my parents cried and just before they departed, my dad reminded me that he did everything he could to ensure I started a new life. “I took the worst jobs,” he said, “so you could create your dream job.”
There are those who helped me succeed–my parents, benevolent strangers leaving food, the good tax-paying people of America–and I'm truly indebted to such sacrifice.
I'm humbled and hellbent on paying it forward, so to those who help me succeed, THANK YOU.