We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofSavannah Middleton

The lights in my family’s two-bedroom apartment blew out once again and the microwave’s loud buzz came to a halt. I felt my mind and stomach flutter alarmingly and the water that I had gulped down a second ago began bubbling as if I had swallowed dish soap.

I heard Mommy on the phone discussing the electricity bill. “I have four young children! You can’t shut the power off!” she cried. I didn’t want her to have to beg them. I wanted my mother to not have to constantly worry about the power being shut off and not having enough food to feed her kids. I prayed that her unceasing fears of not being able to properly provide for us would come to an end. To help my mother, I would clean up around the house, attempting to avoid the toxic mold that attached itself to the window sill in the bathroom and kitchen sink, but it never felt like enough. 

Cleaning contributed to our overall health, but it did nothing for our money problems. There were so many issues in my household, but instead of allowing them to affect me, these problems inspired me to make an enormous change for my family. I’d always heard that college would be the way to success and where I’d build my path into a career, and being the first generation in my family to go to college, I was inspired to put my energy towards that. This would be a way to get the experience and finances that I needed to help build a foundation for me and my family. There'd be expenses, but through persistent work, I could earn the money I needed. 

I first defeated the individual issues that affected me: sleep deprivation, anxiety, and lack of energy. I wrote down an array of goals to work towards, eliminating the challenges that were going to deter me from succeeding in school. Throughout my first years of high school, I applied this newfound energy to my studies while finishing all of my assignments to the best of my ability. 

As time passed, school became tougher. During my sophomore year, the teachers were becoming intimidating, forcing all their work, studying, and lessons upon us. I never felt like I could stand up for myself, share my thoughts, or even ask questions which contributed to a loss of motivation. I remember my teacher expecting me to answer a simple question about the presentation I was working on, but I simply couldn’t. I froze, and at that moment, I understood that I couldn’t let the demands of high school academics stop me from achieving my goal. That interaction with my teacher inspired me even more. I understood that I developed a strong goal (to go to college), but setting a huge goal was difficult for me to stick to. So, I began setting smaller, short-term goals which would gradually lead to the completion of my long-term goal of providing my family with the financial help that they need.

This has led me to think of other families that have also struggled and the children who also want to help their families' situation but cannot. In the far future, I aspire to create a foundation to provide stable jobs for families who struggle financially. With the courses taken in college, I hope to create an organization that can assist in the job-searching process, provide valuable information to families, and help to fight financial deprivation. 

With persistent work and collaboration, I can ignite the light that had always seemed to blow out of my family’s two-bedroom apartment and inspire a brighter and more magnificent future for families around the world.

© Savannah Middleton. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.