As a queer kid growing up in a small town, it was a struggle to find my place in the education system. I grew up in a home in which it was expected that I would do well and pursue a “traditional” four-year college education. But a feeling of otherness and failure colored my opinion of myself, and of the system.
When I began attending a small, liberal arts university after high school I gained a new respect for my identity; it became clearer than ever that a traditional education journey was not for me. If the system was not designed for me, I set out to design it for myself. That’s what led me to community college.
At Wake Technical Community College, I have access to amazing mentorship. My mentor has given me opportunities to use my voice to empower others, and myself. I present lectures in her classes once a semester about the LGBTQ+ community and how to work with this demographic in the field. I came into the program as a poor public speaker, but she has encouraged me to be confidant and educate people about a meaningful part of my life.
I plan to finish my Bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling, and potentially earn a Master’s degree in Social Work. My hope is to work with LGBTQ+ youth who are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness.
Community college has empowered me in a way that my other educational experiences did not. It has allowed me to set my own pace, develop my lifestyle, and find my voice. It has given me a tangible education that I can carry with me no matter what. I have bettered myself, and now I know how to use my voice to better society. That’s why I’m supporting Heads Up America’s movement to make community college free – every hard working student should have the opportunity I did to improve their lives and their communities.
PS: Has community college changed your life? Share this image with your story and use #HeadsUpAmerica.