Recently, the topic of wealth disparity has become a popular point of discussion on campus. The question as to the extent of power monetary units should have arises, and whether this inequality is just or not. Throughout the course of these discussions, I cannot help but think back to the organization that allowed me to attend a private college. I cannot help but think of all the freebies they have sent me over the years to represent their logo, and how I have never once worn their brand. It ends up being ironic- that the very organization I have to thank for my entire future is an organization I try to dissociate from.
To begin, I am a Questbridge Scholar. What does that mean? It means I come from a household where my parents’ combined income is less than 60,000 annually. It means that I have a backstory where I have struggled from the lack of resources and opportunities from when I was younger. It means that everything I have ever accomplished and received was worked for, because I was born into a position where nothing was handed to me. But the distinguishing factor for most Questbridge Scholars would be that despite all the hardships, they persevered. They didn’t sit back and allowed themselves to be the victims of their situations. They had higher expectations for themselves and believed hard work would take them elsewhere. Questbridge became an organization that bonded a lot of these determined students together, and ended up investing into their higher education at top tier schools.
The entire ordeal is an empowering one. To be labelled as a Questbridge Scholar is quite an achievement and a point of pride. If you are a Questbridge Scholar, not only are you recognized for your academic talents, but you are recognized for your relentless efforts to persevere. You are recognized for beating the odds and having to work harder to get to the same position as more affluent students. When I was in high school, being in a group where I could communicate with other rising college students like myself was inspirational, because I related to many of their battles to become somebody in this world.
Yet I’ll still hide the stickers and sit out of the workshops. The only time I’ll wear the t-shirt I get yearly is to the gym or to sleep, the symbol for the organization more of a point of shame than pride. It’s not that I’ve lost gratefulness to the organization itself, but rather that to explain the organization’s purpose brings out a lingering embarrassment. After all, in the aftermath, a person’s social class does affect attitude and treatment. Psychologically, we are all biased in the sense that we talk to another individual based on how we perceive their rank in comparison to our own, whether that be their appearance, language, personality, political affiliation, or social class. While it is unjust, it is realistic to say that an affluent person will have more power and a louder voice in any situation where transactions are possible. They have priority, as shown in airlines and hotels and the entire customer service department altogether.
However, I have come to the epiphany that wealth does not gaunter respect. For that reason, I’ll never be ashamed of where I come from and how I got here. That journey is a constant reminder of why I, alongside thousands of others, continue to prioritize education over everything else. It is a reminder of why we push on through the sleepless nights, ignore some of the ignorant comments and complaints of our wealthier peers, and why we do any of it at all in the first place.
Now, will I wear the Questbridge logo like a trophy starting tomorrow? Probably not. The image I project, despite the validity of my thought process, is significant. I do believe in “faking it ‘til you make it”, and being perceived as being from a higher social background has indefinitely helped me in conferences and obtaining career opportunities. However, I suppose I’m dedicating this entire article to organizations like Questbridge, who has helped so many less fortunate students find their opportunity to succeed. From all of us, we’re eternally grateful and extend our “thank you’s”.