During my time at Bellevue College, I have frequently come across students who casually undermine their worth and value, especially when contributing to conversations about academic-related topics. They frequently make comments that belittle their contribution to conversations in classrooms and social settings. In my experience, we often justify this casual destructive behavior through the demeaning narrative that those who attend community college are not suited for the roles of leadership and innovation that our local and global communities need.
The narrative that we are less than because of the college we attend is shaped by an inequitable system that caters to the assumed educational paths of the majority. More than that, it is shaped by a system that does not recognize the socioeconomic diversity that access to education must cater to. As a collective, we often fail to recognize the natural diversity in our paths and experiences when pursuing an education. This type of diversity in and of itself brings an indescribable value to the communities to which we belong.
Education is empowering. When we are educated, we feel as though our voice will be heard and that our thoughts are of value. Regardless of the institution you attend, the knowledge you gain from the education you pursue is never wasted. During my time at community college, I have had the privilege of learning alongside brilliant students and faculty who carry the same appreciation for education and the life it can provide. Something as valuable as education and the initiative to seek out knowledge will never be undermined by institutions who recognize the positive contribution educational power can bring to our communities.
At BC, I have met parents and grandparents pursuing an education because they know they are worthy of the investment. I have met Running Start students who take advantage of the opportunity to expand their education at such a young age. I have also met students like myself, who chose to attend community college in the spirit of resilience and adaptability to situations out of their control. This expansive diversity of experiences and backgrounds provides immeasurable potential in our ability to understand and solve problems on a local, national and global level. Community college students represent the diversity of our nation and the potential we have when access to our education system becomes equitable. Community college students embody growth. What a privilege it is to attend a school that represents everything that accessibility to a good education can and should provide.